State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th district) and Reps. Mark Rozzi (D-126th district) and Rep. Manny Guzman, D-Berks, announced three Berks County organizations received a total of $475,000 in Keystone Communities Program (KCP) grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
The City of Reading received $400,000 in grant funding for the Downtown 800 Block Penn Street South Courtyard Improvement Project, which aims to add new lighting to improve safety, install a new drainage system and create new paving and landscaping. The project also includes increased parking for visitors and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant walkways within the courtyard.
Berks Alliance was granted $50,000 in funding for the Reading Façade Improvement Program. The program seeks to improve to external appearance, lighting and security of storefronts and enhance the overall aesthetic of downtown Reading.
The West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation received $25,000 in support of priorities identified by the Vision and Master Plan of Downtown West Reading. The grant funding will go towards façade improvements that will further boost the attractiveness of West Reading.
“The funding awarded to the City of Reading, Berks Alliance and the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation is well deserved,” Schwank said. “All three groups have put together thoughtful plans that will make Berks County a more beautiful place to live while simultaneously improving safety and boosting economic development.”
“Revitalization and the continual improvement of Reading and West Reading bring positive social and economic change to Berks County,” Rozzi said. “I’m happy to see these state dollars going to work right here in our community and contributing to the betterment of our area.”
Guzman contacted the Wolf administration with his strong support for the South Courtyard Improvement Project and was instrumental in securing this Keystone Communities Program grant for the city.
Guzman said the 800 block of Penn Street in the heart of downtown Reading attracts both locals and visitors frequently and is highly walkable. It also is in the heart of his legislative district, just one block from his constituent service office at 645 Penn St.
“Penn Street is our city’s main corridor and will be at the forefront of development now and in years to come,” Guzman said. “The existing courtyard in this project area is occupied by dozens of people at any given time throughout the day.
“I am going after every possible state dollar available to bring back to my legislative district, and this grant is another small step in the right direction. I’m thrilled to see the state continue to invest vital development funds into areas of our city, like Penn Street, so they can continue to thrive.”
The Keystone Communities Program supports physical improvements to communities that are undertaking revitalization to restore deteriorated downtowns, residential neighborhoods and industrial/manufacturing sites.