Governor Wolf: Restore Pennsylvania Will Help Lancaster County Battle Blight
March 20, 2019
Columbia, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf outlined the components of the most aggressive infrastructure plan in generations, Restore Pennsylvania. The governor’s plan will help communities in Lancaster County address blight, expand broadband access, mitigate the effects of localized flooding, and expand green infrastructure, restoring communities after long neglect.
“My vision for Pennsylvania includes vibrant towns and cities with new development, opportunities in rural and disadvantaged areas, and a modern, interconnected commonwealth,” said Governor Wolf. “Unfortunately, after decades of neglect and declining federal investment, Pennsylvania is falling behind, and we need a bold plan to get us back on track.”
To achieve these goals, Governor Wolf announced an ambitious infrastructure initiative, Restore Pennsylvania, funded by the monetization of a commonsense severance tax. Restore Pennsylvania will invest $4.5 billion over the next four years in significant high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth to help catapult Pennsylvania ahead of every state in the country in terms of technology, development, and infrastructure.
Encompassing new and expanded programs to address five priority infrastructure areas including high speed internet access, storm preparedness and disaster recovery, downstream manufacturing, business development, and energy infrastructure, demolition, revitalization, and renewal, and transportation capital projects, Restore Pennsylvania projects will be driven by local input about community needs. Projects identified by local stakeholders will be evaluated through a competitive process to ensure that high priority, high impact projects are funded and needs across Pennsylvania are met.
Restore Pennsylvania will increase resources for addressing blight by providing financial resources at the local level to establish land banks and acquire and demolish blighted buildings in order to create new development opportunities or provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.
“This infrastructure proposal couldn’t come at a more important time,” according to Matthew Sternberg, executive director of the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority. “Lancaster County has come a long way in understanding the problems and putting good mechanisms in place to address them. Our County Land Bank, Redevelopment Authority and Economic Development Company work closely with our planners and communities to determine effective solutions. But financial resources are scarce. A reliable funding stream over four years will go a long way to bolster investment and position our communities for success.”
In 2016, Lancaster County launched the Lancaster County Land Bank Authority and began work within the boroughs of Columbia and Marietta. Still, municipalities are struggling with funding and the demolition and reinvigoration of blighted and abandoned properties. In Columbia, the governor outlined how Restore Pennsylvania will help the borough and Lancaster County address blight.
“Blighted homes threaten residents’ health and safety, cost local governments for enforcement and maintenance, reduce property values and tax revenue, and make communities less attractive for investment,” said Governor Wolf. “Some of these blighted properties are in desirable locations but a lack of funding has prevented communities from large initiatives that would allow them to be redeveloped. Restore Pennsylvania is needed to property support our communities.”
View the full Restore Pennsylvania plan here.