Monessen may get money for makeover
City Council is hoping Gov. Mark Schweiker will be generous to Monessen before he leaves office.
If all goes according to plan, the city's downtown business district could undergo a makeover through a $3 million state Capital Budget Fund for several redevelopment projects.
The program would feature a new public safety building, additions to the Monessen Public Library and District Center and city hall renovations.
The $3 million appropriation apparently was added to the state budget several years ago to pay for a library project to honor the state Rep. Herman Mihalich, who died in 1997.
Mayor John T. DeLuca said Wednesday that he met with state Sen. J. Barry Stout July 11 to discuss the possibility of amending the plan to include other projects.
"This is a window of opportunity, but there is a lot of work to be done," DeLuca said. "It is ambitious, but the money is there. We need to put a plan together and go after it. It's up to the governor to release the money.
Stout said he supports the plan.
"I'll work with them to see what what we can do to get that funding," said Stout. "The city definitely has a need and Monessen has limited finances. I'm hoping that through this governor or the next (incoming governor) we can be successful."
The downtown redevelopment project would target the areas between Third and Sixth streets on Donner Avenue, and Second and Third streets on Schoonmaker Avenue.
He said the plan would require cooperation by the city, its redevelopment authority and other groups. The plan must be completed by early fall.
The proposed public safety building would be constructed on Donner Avenue, in a vacant lot across from the municipal building. It would feature a fire station, police station and city offices.
Once renovated, the municipal building would house the Monessen Historical Society and the city Redevelopment Authority. The building also would be open to such agencies as the Greater Monessen Chamber of Commerce.
The money could be used to help build a facility to house the Monessen Food Pantry on Donner Avenue, between Second the Third streets.
Two buildings would be demolished on Donner Avenue, between Fourth and Sixth streets, to create parking for a possible new retail store at Fifth Street and Donner Avenue.
Further, the money would be used to acquire and demolish three buildings at Fifth Street and Donner Avenue to make room for a three-story building to house a proposed medical service company.
The basement of the Monessen Civic Center, which now houses the food pantry, would be redesigned for recreational use.
DeLuca said he received a letter of intent from a retail business operator who wants to move into Monessen. However, he did not identify either the retailer or the the medical service company.
"We don't have to go through the application process," DeLuca said. "We just have to show them plans."
The mayor said city must establish the value of its buildings and properties, which would serve as an in-kind matches for the grant.
He said the city's portion of the match could be supplemented by Community Development Block Grant money and cash from the fire company.