GREENSBURG (August 15) –The Board of Directors of the Westmoreland County Land Bank today announced that they are the recipients of a $10,000 “Boosting Community Pride” grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. The grant will spearhead Land Bank efforts to acquire and demolish blighted structures in the heart of Sutersville Borough – one of its newest member municipalities. “Borough officials and I are beyond happy with the news of the grant award”, said Mayor Alaina Breakiron. “Small communities in the county have long struggled to find any relief for these issues. To work with the Land Bank to remove these structures is going to be a life changing improvement for residents.”
The Land Bank plans to target 3 blighted, abandoned homes along First Avenue, the main road into the town, with a planned reuse as active green space and recreational space for residents. Funding from the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland will aid in the demolition of the unsafe structures.
According to April Kopas, Executive Director of the Westmoreland County Land Bank, “We are extremely grateful to the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County for the support of beautification projects like these. The elimination of blight in small towns not only has a large impact on surrounding property values, but also makes the area more inviting for new investment. We are thrilled for this opportunity to partner with Sutersville Borough.”
The Boosting Community Pride grant is the result of a Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Internship Program, where young philanthropists selected the award recipients based on determined criteria for the grant. Phil Koch, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, explains, “The goal of our internship program is to engage youth voice in decision-making. Our 11 summer interns had full ownership of this grantmaking process – they had $50,000 in grant funding to award to community organizations they thought would make the most impact in Westmoreland County.”
Intern Cecilia Markley, a recent graduate of Franklin Regional High School, noted, “Our team included six interns representing different communities from our county, and our grantmaking process was very competitive. We chose to award funding to the Land Bank’s project in Sutersville Borough because it directly addresses our desire to support projects that promote recreation and help attract more people to one of Westmoreland County’s smaller communities.”
The Land Bank has 22 member municipalities and has acquired 75 properties, sold 46 and is leasing 3 to community groups. For more information about the Land Bank, visit www.westmorelandlandbank.com.