Low funds halt downtown Kittanning street progress

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Plans to improve a portion of Market Street in Kittanning's downtown business distict are in place, but the revitalization won't happen unless local businesses and residents step in to help fund the project before the deadline expires in spring.

The Armstrong County Community Foundation and the county's Industrial Development Council recently announced the launch of a fundraising campaign for the first phase of the Downtown Kittanning Impact project.

Most of the total cost (around $2 million) has been covered, but there is still a sum of $371,989 remaining.

State Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, helped the borough get close to half of the total with $1 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

However, that funding requires the borough to match its total.

Additional funding has already come in from state, county and local agencies and from locally based Rosebud Mining Co., which gave $200,000.

“We're kind of in the ninth hour for getting funds,” said Mindy Knappenberger, executive director of the Armstrong County Community Foundation.

“We would like the (remaining) funds by the end of the year,” she said.

Walter Smail, IDC project manager, echoed that urgency and said the overall project funding expires in the spring, although he added that an extension could be sought.

“We're looking at that funding, and we don't want to see it go away,” he said. “Unless we can bridge that gap, we won't be able to move forward.”

Smail said that Phase 1 will focus on the section of Market Street between the intersections of North and South Grant and North and South McKean streets.

He said improvements will include curb extensions with green space for safer pedestrian crossing.

According to a news release from the Armstrong County Community Foundation, Phase 1 includes removal and relocation of overhead utilities, sidewalk and handicap ramp replacements and enhancements, decorative historic-style street lights and mast-arm traffic signals, newly planted trees, implementation of a two-way traffic pattern on McKean Street (now one-way), curb-side parking and street resurfacing, striping and signage.

In February, the Downtown Revitalization Committee hired Ohio-based E.G.& G. Inc. to develop a conceptual design and cost estimate.

The Committee's overall vision is to eventually enhance the entire Market Street corridor and continue the visual appeal of the Riverfront Park all the way up through the center of town (along Market Street from Citizens' Bridge to the courthouse), Smail said.

But for now, he said, with funding restrictions and time limits, the project will focus on Phase 1.

Those involved in the fundraising efforts are hoping that area businesses and individuals help make the plans a reality by donating money to the Armstrong County Community Foundation for the Downtown Kittanning Impact Project.

“We think everyone will benefit from an economic revival (in Kittanning),” Knappenberger said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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