U.S. Sen. Bob Casey took a whirlwind tour of downtown Warren on Tuesday, reviewing the ongoing Streetscape project, along with various other projects with local officials.
Casey, who sponsored $400,000 in appropriation funding for the Streetscape project, spent an hour walking the streets with GRO-Warren director Chris Cheronis, Mayor Mark Phillips, City Manager Jim Nelles and Kerry Gern, of the Pennsylvania Alliance, talking about the multi-million dollar Streetscape project, along with a proposed hotel/convention center project and an educational center project, which would be located in a yet-to-be-constructed building on the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Liberty St.
“There is an awful lot happening here,” Casey said. “You should be proud.”
Casey’s tour began with a briefing in the Warren Main Street office, where Cheronis went over the various downtown projects underway or in the planning stages.
Cheronis highlighted a planned three- to four-story education center on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Liberty St., calling it the crux of future development in the downtown area.
“The education center – that is absolutely the hub,” Cheronis said. “It’s going to be the center of the focus. If you walk away with anything, it’s that Warren is going to be an educational hub.”
The new building would house classrooms for curriculum for two universities, along with additional educational components.
Additional learning labs and classrooms would be housed in the former Loranger building on Clark St. and at a third location on the city’s west side.
The west side location would be located within a proposed waste energy treatment plant that would be built specifically to treat waste from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
According to Gern, a location for the plant has been secured and the buildings on the property have been demolished. “Right now, we are finalizing,” he said.
Cheronis also briefly discussed a proposed “Black Window” project on Liberty St., which would result in revitalizing the upper floors of buildings on the west side of the street, along with plugging them into the Impact Warren geothermal heating and cooling system.
“I haven’t seen anything like that before,” Casey said.
“Well, get ready,” Cheronis said.
During the tour, Casey noted the city’s economic diversity, saying that most small towns he’s toured in the state don’t have it.
“Most small towns rely on health care providers and government as major employers, and no manufacturing,” Casey said. “I notice you have several manufacturers in the city, along with financial institutions. That seems to be your secret to what’s going on here.”
Casey spent Tuesday touring towns in western and northwestern Pennsylvania, ending in Coudersport. According to a staff member, Casey is taking advantage of a month-long recess in Congress to make a swing through western Pennsylvania, an area of the state he rarely gets to visit due to the time he spends in Washington, D.C.
Times Observer photo by Dean Wells
City Manager Jim Nelles, left, gives U.S. Sen. Bob Casey details of a proposed hotel/convention center that would be located on Clark St. Casey was in town on Tuesday morning for a tour of the Streetscape project.