Burns: $1.2 million in state grants coming to region for parks, street projects

Burns worked with communities to bring funding to region

EBENSBURG, Nov. 19 – More than $1.2 million in grant funding is coming to Cambria County to build and improve parks, streets and sidewalks in the region thanks to the efforts of state Rep. Frank Burns who worked tirelessly to secure the highly competitive state money.

“Today is a big day for these three local communities, with major state grants being awarded for projects that will significantly improve our region,” Burns said. “Small towns – like many I represent – could never afford to make these types of transformational investments without state funding. I’ve made it my mission to support our communities by helping them to secure grant funds that make projects like these possible.”

The grants awarded locally included $537,000 for Portage Borough to continue a sidewalk improvement project along Johnson Avenue to connect to Crichton McCormick Park, linking the elementary and junior/senior high schools.

“The residents are going to be excited that we can continue to move on and push this project to the final stages. This has been a long time coming,” said Robert Koban, Portage Borough manager. “To have the funding in place to be able to do it is huge for a community the size of ours.”

Burns has worked with Portage for several years to bring the multi-phase project to fruition.

“You do hear a lot… ‘oh reach out to your representative’s office,’ and sometimes you feel there are so many things they’re dealing with that may take priority,” Koban said. “(You wonder) will they really look into it if I call? The answer has been absolutely, a resounding yes. Representative Burns has done everything he said he was going to do.”

Lilly Borough was also selected to receive two grants, including $471,385 to repave sections of Main, Hagan and High streets, as well as replace sidewalks; and $90,000 for new fencing, basketball court resurfacing and a new parking lot at the borough’s Barkertown Park.

“Lilly Borough Council is committed to making our community attractive to businesses, safe for foot traffic (and) we’re committed to the youth of the town … This will continue to help us with the recreational opportunities as well,” said Bill Patterson, council president.

Patterson, who himself grew up playing at the Barkertown playground, joked that he almost did a cartwheel when he learned of the grant award. “It’s a big deal for us, really it is. I can’t thank Mr. Burns enough for the help in obtaining this grant.”

Ebensburg was also awarded $112,000 to help fund efforts to build a new 1.5-acre dog park, complete with pavilions, parking and fencing – a project that has been under development for more than two years.

“Our goal here is to provide a safe place for dogs and people to socialize and exercise within a 20-mile radius of Ebensburg,” said Jim White, past president of the Ebensburg Rotary. “This grant will enable us to begin the process of constructing the park and making it a reality for the citizens of our area.”

White noted that the project has been a joint effort among the state, the borough, the Rotary, “and, I have to say, the community of Ebensburg because they have supported us not only with fundraising but helping to make some of our dog park-related events successful.”

The funding for the projects comes from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program and the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. More information about the CFA and the funding programs can be found here.

In the last three years alone, Burns has helped local communities and organizations secure more than $14 million from the CFA for projects ranging from flood mitigation and water main projects to playgrounds and street safety improvements – part of his commitment to making sure Cambria County gets its fair share of state funding.