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City seeks help in moving projects forward

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry From left, City of Warren Planner Vince DeJoy, Congressman Glenn GT Thompson, and State Rep. Kathy Rapp discuss plans for a boat launch in the City of Warren.

Officials in the City of Warren are looking for some help in moving forward with projects.

On Friday, City Planner Vince DeJoy and Mayor Maurice Cashman hosted Congressman Glenn GT Thompson, State Sen. Scott Hutchinson, State Rep. Kathy Rapp, and Ruzhdi Bakalli, whose company HIY developed the Loranger Building along the river, to talk plans and funding.

The group gathered at Bent Run Brewing, close to the proposed location for a public boat launch that was the first item on the agenda.

The city is in the process of creating and advancing plans to develop the area of the city along the Allegheny River.

The boat launch is one step. That development would allow for the launch at Warren General Hospital to be reserved as a helicopter landing site, while bringing paddlers closer to the businesses on the north side of the river.

One of the major targets of the greater vision so far is a hotel.

“The combination is a win-win,” Cashman said.

“Once we have so many things in place here, it should be a slam dunk,” DeJoy said.

“I agree 100 percent,” Thompson said. “This would enhance the district.”

“The goal was to bring him up to speed on the projects down here at the waterfront,” DeJoy said. “What we want to do is capitalized by building a public boat launch.”

The city has applied for $1 million in grant funding through the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and is working on grants through other state and federal sources – including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Grant.

Thompson suggested the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Asked about the American Rescue Plan Act, he was not as hopeful. “Probably not,” Thompson said. Then again, “we don’t have any guidance whatsoever.”

“As we continue pursuing a hotel, we’re going to have to buy some property,” DeJoy said.

“The congressman is very support of both projects,” he said. “He wants to see this development. He wants to see what’s been started here built on for the future.”

“I think it’s a great project,” Thompson said. “I was given a tour when this was basically an abandoned site. It was sad.”

“A boat ramp and a parking area would be incredible,” he said. He said the river “is beautiful to look at, but give people easier access.”

“I’ve been so inspired by what is happening here,” he said. “The businesses here have become destination sites.”

He said he likes the idea of a boutique, themed, hotel on the upper floors of the Loranger Building where Allegheny Outfitters, Bent Run, Goat Fort, and PennWild Outdoors have set up shop.

“What’s happening here is nothing short of amazing,” DeJoy said. “We want to build upon it and keep it going.”

“I love the vision the people here in Warren have,” Thompson said.

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