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Carbon reapplying for $200,000 grant

Published February 26. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County is reapplying for a $200,000 grant to help fund the Packerton Business Park Project.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to submit an application to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), for the project. This is a re-submission of last year's application.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said that the re-submission includes changes and additions of information, which was requested by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

He added that the project was prioritized as number one by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance and is eligible for $1 million from the EDA and $200,000 from the ARC.

"The EDA has continuously asked us for more and more information, such as environmental studies and things of that nature," O'Gurek said. "This has been a long, exhausting process in which we are still applying for the $200,000."

He said that the money from the ARC would be used to complete the multi-million dollar project. So far, the county has $4.1 million for the industrialization of Packerton Yards $2 million from Gov. Rendell through the Revitalization Capital Assistance program, matched with EDA and ARC monies, and $1.1 million through the gambling money at Mount Airy.

Once everything is secured and permits are received, the county plans to move forward with improvements to Route 209 at the entrance of the business park, build an access road into the facility, put in a new railroad crossing, and complete sewer water infrastructure improvements.

O'Gurek said things are moving along with the proposed railroad crossing agreement.

"The county's lawyer met with Norfolk Southern on Monday and they have been agreeable to the terms that the county set," O'Gurek said, noting that Reading and Northern Railroad has also agreed to the terms.

The next thing the county will have to do is submit an agreed order to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission to have them sign off on it. This is anticipated to happen within the next few months.

Once everything is signed, work on the crossing will begin.

The county has also been waiting for a highway occupancy permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to create a turning lane from Route 209 in the area of the Packerton dip into the yards. The turning lane would be located on the Northbound lane heading toward Lehighton.

"It's been a long process and hopefully at the end of the day we will have six lots that we are currently marketing in various sizes that cover about 46 acres," O'Gurek said, adding that another 11 acres on the 59-acre site that stretches between Mahoning Township and Lehighton, will be used for recreational purposes.

The industrialization of Packerton Yards has been in the works since 2002, when Commissioner Charles Getz and O'Gurek included the project as part of their campaign.

On Feb. 25, 2005, the county purchased the site from Joseph and Betty Zaprazny at a cost of $350,000.

Since then, the board has worked with state officials, such as state Speaker of the House Keith McCall (D-Carbon), and federal officials to secure millions of dollars in funding to use for developing the site.

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