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A number of projects to enhance the downtown area of Berwick were discussed during a recent walking tour with state and local officials. Rick Vilello, Deputy Secretary of Community Affairs & Development with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), reviewed efforts to remove blighted properties and bring new development and investment to the community. Representatives of Berwick Borough, Columbia County, SEDA-COG, and the Berwick: The Next Step steering committee, including the Chamber, participated.
The Borough has been proactive in demolishing a number of blighted properties using available funds. Community Strategies Group, which received the Chamber’s Community Progress Award this year, has constructed new housing in formerly blighted properties in the Borough’s West End. The organization is also exploring other development, including commercial and recreational projects, in the downtown area.
Vilello and other officials on the tour suggested potential funding sources. The Deputy Secretary is experienced in these areas, having owned Vilello Building Inspections for over 17 years and having served as the Mayor of Lock Haven for 15 years before going to work for DCED in 2015. While the Department may not have the resources to assist with all of the projects discussed, Vilello pledged that agency staff would help to make the right connections in support the efforts to enhance Berwick.