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Knowles announces funds for Tamaqua police station/community center

Tamaqua Area Community Partnership Inc. was awarded $2 million Monday for construction of a new borough police station and community center through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The announcement was made by Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill, who played a key role in securing the state funding.

He thanked Gov. Tom Wolf for working with them to release the funds.

“We are grateful the governor agrees with us — that this project is more than deserving of state funding,” Knowles said.

“As a former police officer and mayor, I have always been a strong supporter of law enforcement in Tamaqua and statewide,” Knowles said. “Now, more than ever, we need to show our men and women in blue that we stand behind them. I look forward to the completion of this project and the positive impact it will have on public safety.”

According to the state website, the grant will go toward the demolition of nine blighted properties ranging in size from 0.03 acres to 0.14 acres on Route 309 in downtown Tamaqua and construction of a new, 10,000-square-foot, two-story police station and community center.

“Our officers and staff so greatly appreciate this support, and it means so much right now,” said Tamaqua Police Chief Mike Hobbs. “Our station hasn’t changed much since Jerry was a police officer. As we recruit and train the next generation of officers in Tamaqua, this new station will be a great asset to our department.”

The building will accommodate public services, including emergency services vehicles and equipment.

Sen. Dave Argall, R-29, commented on the award. “I want to congratulate Rep. Knowles for his leadership in guiding this very competitive grant application to aid the Tamaqua Police Department to its successful completion. This funding will give the police department a much-needed, state-of-the-art facility and continue the downtown’s ongoing revitalization.”

Micah Gursky, Tamaqua Area Community Partnership director, commented on the project.

“The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership is happy to take the lead to develop this important project. Working together to eliminate blight and improve public safety are community priorities.”

Gursky said the goal is to construct a state-of-the-art police station for Tamaqua’s full-time police force and, if there is enough real estate, to include a community hall for events and meetings.

“This commitment allows us to get serious about identifying and securing a site. We want to continue Tamaqua’s Safety Initiative and downtown revitalization efforts by eliminating blighted properties and locating the station in a pedestrian-friendly location.”

He didn’t give a timeline for the project.

“Capital budget projects are notoriously long and laborious,” Gursky said. There are necessary bureaucratic steps and requirements.

However, he said, “TACP managed the capital budget project that renovated the Tamaqua Museum a few years back, so we are experienced with the program.”

The partnership will begin meeting with stakeholders to discuss design options.

The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, now in its 27th year, is a nonprofit charitable organization created to improve the quality of life in the Tamaqua Area. Projects have included the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, Hope and Coffee house, and several community initiatives, including the Tamaqua Has Heart program.

Funding for this RACP grant and others was authorized by lawmakers in the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act. RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects with a focus on job creation.

Tamaqua police chief Mike Hobbs and State Rep. Jerry Knowles outside the current police station. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO