Washington County commissioners to seek OK for $6.75 million in LSA projects

Barbara Miller

When gamblers plunk down money at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, a whole spate of projects from sewers to senior-citizen centers in Washington County collectively benefit, even if the individual bettors do not.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners expects to ask that the state Department of Community and Economic Development approve $6.75 million in projects for 2017 from the Local Share Account of revenue from The Meadows.

Projects are broken down into community improvement, economic development, job training and public interest categories and will attract more than $12 million in additional, non-LSA funding, according to an announcement Wednesday morning at the commissioners’ agenda-setting session.

The board is recommending $559,507 in projects under the economic development category, including a quarter of a million dollars for the Greater Washington Area Business Incubator at Observer Publishing Co. property along South Main Street, which has $2.5 million in matching funds raised by Washington & Jefferson College.

“We are so pleased and thankful that the LSA Committee has recommended and the commissioners are considering a grant to support the Greater Washington Area Business Incubator,” wrote Washington & Jefferson College President Tori Haring-Smith via email. “The project makes manifest the college’s motto, ‘Together We Thrive,’ and is an exciting opportunity for the college and the community to work together to provide opportunities for new businesses to help revitalize our downtown.”

The college has plans for the two buildings that housed the newspaper printing operations, since outsourced to Wheeling, W.Va., and circulation department. Projected construction is expected to take place from March 2017 through September 2018. LSA funding would support the fourth phase of the project during late 2017 through August-September 2018, which would include interior partitions and finishes, roofing and insulation, elevator, rest room facilities and fire extinguishers.

A local survey estimated there were 55 potential tenants and clients who could use the incubator – 18 small and start-up businesses interested in becoming tenants and another 37 respondents interested in receiving services at an incubator, such as use of a conference room or copying services.

Eleven community improvement projects totaling $1.62 million include $200,000 recommended for the restoration of Canonsburg Lake, $252,000 for Second Street site preparation for the first phase of the Mon Valley Alliance’s Charleroi Renaissance and $400,000 for renovation of the Washington County fairgrounds trolley stop entrance.

Washington Park’s Main Pavilion restoration would also be receiving $200,000 if the commissioners approve the recommendations at their meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Courthouse Square office building.

Job training programs totaling $620,000 include $500,000 for Washington and Mon Valley hospitals’ centers for education and training; $85,000 for a Trinity Area-Greater Washington County Food Bank hydroponic farming project; and $35,000 for adolescent health in Washington School District in conjunction with the LeMoyne Center and Academy.

Public interest projects – primarily water and sewerage – total $3.9 million. Sewer money will be going to Peters Creek, Peters Township, Canton, Carroll, Hanover and Centerville sanitary authorities, Mid-Mon Valley Water Pollution Control Authority, Mon Valley Sewage Authority, Beeson Avenue sewer repair in Marianna, storm sewer separation in Monongahela; and South Franklin Township’s airport area. Water projects are in East Bethlehem and Canton townships and Bentleyville. Also part of this category are the Canonsburg and Washington senior citizen center rehabilitation projects, Monongahela sidewalks, Literacy Council of Southwestern Pennsylvania accelerated learning program and demolition work in Marianna.