SHARON, Pa. – The $14 million in American Rescue Plan money the city of Sharon, Pa., is receiving will provide an opportunity to make a difference and effect positive change that will last for years to come, says City Manager Bob Fiscus.
“It’s exciting while it also applies a lot of stress and pressure, because we have to get it right,” he says.
One of the first uses city leaders identified for the funding was to establish a small business revitalization grant program.
“Just being able to help the businesses out is a great big relief,” City Council President Molly Bundrant says. “I know we’re going to do it responsibly. I’m just really excited to use that money to make as big of a difference as we possibly can.”
Other plans are in the works to help existing Sharon businesses grow as well as attract new ones to the downtown area through marketing, events and staff specifically focused on revitalization of the business district.
“This funding gives us the ability to strengthen our current business community while attracting additional ones that will help the city of Sharon become a destination, for visitors and potential homeowners,” Fiscus says.
“A lot of exciting things are happening, and the city is moving in the right direction. But we still need to preserve our past and be strategic about revitalizing our downtown,” adds Taylor Galaska, who at age 23 is one of the youngest residents to ever serve on council. “We shouldn’t just be tearing down buildings but finding ways to preserve our history.”
Fiscus agrees. But the city manager also has championed targeting the neighborhood blight that has plagued the city. He advocates tearing down vacant homes and buildings that are beyond repair, with a goal to have most of the city’s vacant houses demolished by the end of 2022.
“We’ll be targeting additional redevelopment projects. We will need to attract and work with some developers for the redevelopment of those vacant lots,” Fiscus says.
State funds will assist with city infrastructure projects this year, including a gateway treatment project at the entrance from Ohio into Sharon with new signage in conjunction with the reconstruction of Irvine Avenue.
Further plans include adding city staff. Open positions include a public works director, a downtown director and staff, additional code compliance staff, along with police and fire department posts.
“To be able to get things moving after we’ve been talking about it for years, it’s exciting to see things finally fall into place. COVID kicked us in the shins but we’re finally catching up and I couldn’t be happier,” Bundrant says.
Pictured: Members of Sharon City Council are: Carl Sizer, vice president; Taylor Galaska, Molly Bundrant, president; Dave Koerth and Bill James.