August 2022

TheBurg News - Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

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08.22 | THEBURGNEWS.COM | 9 NEWS | All stories by eBurg staff Several Harrisburg development projects focused on serving lower-income residents will move forward following a City Council legislative session last month. Council took action to push forward an affordable housing development for South Harrisburg, as well as a childcare center, the Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning. Council unanimously voted to approve a lot consolidation and land development plan for "Sycamore Homes," a 23-unit affordable apartment building planned for the 1400-block of Sycamore Street, near Foose Elementary School. Harrisburg developer George Fernandez, CEO of Latino Connection, explained that the $3.4 million project will offer high-quality studio units to lower-income residents. "What drives us is helping to change what the face of low income looks like," he said. Fernandez said that he hopes to begin construction by this fall, with the project completed by fall 2023. Additionally, council approved a lot consolidation and land development plan for the Catherine Hershey School for Early Learning, which has proposed a childcare facility and school in Uptown Harrisburg. e building will occupy a 3.44-acre area bounded by Peffer, N. 7th, Muench and N. 6th streets. e school is an arm of the Milton Hershey School and would offer free care and pre-K education to 150 low-income and at-risk children, from 6 months to 5 years old. According to Executive Director Senate Alexander, the school will focus on providing kindergarten readiness programming and family support options. "I look forward to it," council member Ausha Green said. "I think it'll be great for the community." e project is slated for completion in spring 2024. e school still will need to secure street vacations for several small roads on the project site. In other news, council approved a resolution to create "Hot Spot Saturdays," a summer initiative to encourage residents to participate in six community cleanup events, which will take place throughout July, August and September in Harrisburg. DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS APPROVED e Harrisburg School District has approved a budget for the 2022-23 school year, a spending plan that includes a 3.36% property tax hike. At a board meeting in late June, Receiver Dr. Lori Suski approved a $223.8 million budget, and the school board voted 6-1 to increase the property tax rate from 29.78 to 30.78 mills. Board Director Roslyn Copeland voted against the increase; directors Jaime Johnson and Terricia Radcliff were not in attendance. "I am very happy that the board saw fit to approve of the tax structure because that enables us to have a balanced budget and enables us to move forward with some necessary projects for the district," Suski said. With the increase, taxpayers pay $30.78 per every $1,000 in assessed property value. However, the 5,609 households in Harrisburg that receive the homestead exemption will actually see a small decrease in their taxes, according to Dr. Marcia Stokes, the district's business administrator. Additional property tax relief funds this year will increase the exemption, she said. e district's 2022-23 budget includes the use of millions of dollars in federal COVID relief funds, making the spending plan much higher than last year's $184.8 million budget. e approved final budget is slightly lower than the district's originally proposed $224.2 million budget. Harrisburg received an influx of about $50 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding, which it plans to use on projects such as the renovation and reopening of the district's Steele Elementary School. e district also plans to replace HVAC systems across schools with the funding. e budget also pays for day-to-day expenditures like instruction, special instruction and staffing costs. 2022-23 SCHOOL BUDGET PASSED Harrisburg, chew on this—a festival devoted to healthy eating will return this month following a pandemic-induced hiatus. Plants + Pints Harrisburg, formerly called Harrisburg Veggie Fest, plans to bring the community together to educate people on living a healthy and eco-conscious life by highlighting local farms, vegan and vegetarian businesses and other plant-based products. And, in a unique, central PA twist, there also will be craft beer. "It's a wellness community event with a focus on wellness, PA agriculture and craft beer," said organizer Sara Bozich, CEO and founder of Sara Bozich Events. e festival will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Strawberry Square in Harrisburg. e event, produced in partnership with Harristown Enterprises and presented by UPMC in Central PA, will benefit two local nonprofit organizations: Downtown Daily Bread and Harrisburg River Rescue and Emergency Services. Bozich said that the idea came from Harristown Enterprises CEO and President Brad Jones, who has vegan family members and loves craft beer. Jones attended an event in Philadelphia spotlighting plant-based companies and local craft breweries and wanted to bring it to Harrisburg. e event will feature more than two-dozen plant-based vendors, as well as DJ duo His&Hers and six craft breweries. Bozich also stated that, although everything is plant-based, anything not vegan will be clearly specified. General admission tickets for adults are $20 and youth ages 12 to 21 are $10. Anyone under 12 years old is free. Bozich stated that this is an event for everyone, not just those who follow a plant-based lifestyle. "It's a community event," she said. "And proceeds are going back to the community." PLANTS + PINTS RETURNS By the end of the year, Harrisburg's downtown post office will have a new address. Last month, Harristown Enterprises announced that the Federal Station Post Office will relocate about one block away, inside of Strawberry Square. Specifically, the post office will occupy about 2,000 square feet of space on the 300-block of Market Street, in the long-vacant storefront location last occupied by the restaurant, the Gingerbread Man, which closed in 2014, according to Harristown, which owns Strawberry Square. "We are delighted to announce this news to the public, and we believe Strawberry Square is an excellent location for the new U.S. post office," said Brad Jones, Harristown's president and CEO. e space will be built out and the move completed by the end of 2022, Jones said. Earlier this year, the federal government sold the Ronald Reagan Federal Building, located at N. 3rd and Walnut streets, to Seychelles- based Global Ocean Investments for $10 million. As a result, all federal offices located in the building must move, including the post office. e building is expected to be entirely vacant by early 2023. New building owner Justin Etzin has said that he plans to redevelop the 56-year-old, 251,000-square-foot structure as a 200- unit apartment building with several restaurants and bars. e federal building sale was prompted by the construction of a new federal courthouse at N. 6th and Reily streets in Harrisburg. e $201 million courthouse project, which includes 243,000 square feet of space, is nearing completion, according to the U.S. General Services Administration. POST OFFICE SET TO MOVE It soon will be time for local up-and-coming professionals to take the spotlight. Harrisburg Young Professionals (HYP) announced that nominations are now open for its 2022 "20 In eir 20s" class. "It's a good opportunity to highlight people doing good work in their communities," said HYP Board President Jade Honey. Anyone between the ages of 20 to 29 who lives or works in Dauphin, Cumberland or Perry counties is eligible for nomination. e nominee must contribute to making a difference in their community or workplace. Twenty young people will be selected and honored. Nominations are open through Aug. 8. For more information, visit On Nov. 9, HYP will host its "20 In eir 20s" awards ceremony at the Hilton Harrisburg. Tickets for the event will go on sale Sept. 7. 20 IN THEIR 20's Home sales slipped while prices rose in June, according to the latest report on previously owned houses in the Harrisburg area. For the three-county region, a total of 770 houses sold in June, compared to 826 in June 2021, as the median price rose to $264,050 from $230,000 last year, said the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR). In Dauphin County, sales dipped to 349 homes versus 389 last June, but the median price increased to $230,500 from $209,000, GHAR said. Similarly, in Cumberland County, sales slipped to 374 houses, compared to 404 in June 2021, as the median price rose to $315,000 versus $256,750 in the year-ago period, according to GHAR. Perry County had 43 homes sell in June, an increase of 10 houses from a year ago, as the median price rose to $219,950 from $200,000 in June 2021, GHAR said. HOME SALES DIP, PRICES UP A critical link in Harrisburg is set for an upgrade, as PennDOT prepares to replace the Maclay Street Bridge. Last month, the PA Department of Transportation unveiled its project website and opened up the comment period for its plan to replace the bridge, which carries about 25,000 vehicles a day. e comment period lasts through Aug. 5. Under the current schedule, the $35 million project would begin in 2024 and last for about two years. e project extends from the Maclay Street/7th Street intersection to Julia Street, which is a half-block west of Cameron Street. PennDOT describes the existing, 82-year-old bridge as in "poor condition with advanced deterioration to the primary load carrying members." Major elements of the bridge project include: • Construction of a new, four-span steel girder bridge over the Norfolk Southern Harrisburg Rail Yard, replacing the existing, seven-span bridge, which was built in 1940. • Raising the profile of the Maclay Street roadway to increase the vertical clearance of the bridge from 21 feet to 23 feet to better accommodate double-stacked rail cars. • Widening of Maclay Street from four lanes to five lanes in the project area. • Addition of bicycle lanes in both the eastbound and westbound directions. As part of the project, the small bridge carrying Maclay Street over Paxton Creek also will be replaced. e width of both bridges will be increased from 62 feet to 86 feet. e new bridges will have five 11-foot-wide lanes, two 6-foot-wide bike lanes, and two 8-foot-wide sidewalks. MACLAY STREET BRIDGE TO BE REPLACED

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