The state has awarded $1.55 million in grants for transportation, recreation and environmental projects in Berks County.

State lawmakers who represent the county, along with Reading Mayor Eddie Moran, issued a press release Wednesday applauding the additional funding from several different sources to help finance six projects.

They are:

  • Kutztown will receive $674,844 to make infrastructure improvements that will make the borough easier to navigate for pedestrians and motorists.

The plan includes ADA-compliance improvements, crosswalk upgrades and traffic signal improvements.

"I commend Kutztown's local officials for their vision and foresight to pursue a project to make an already friendly borough more welcoming for residents and visitors alike," state Sen. Judy Schwank said in the release.

"Kutztown is one of the most walkable boroughs in Berks," state Rep. Gary Day added. "I'm pleased to see the borough will receive the funds to further improve its walkability and safety for both pedestrians and motorists alike."

  • Reading will receive $375,000 toward its Buttonwood Gateway Project.

"The Buttonwood Gateway West project has long been a goal for city officials and business leaders," state Rep. Manuel Guzman said. "More projects like this are needed."

The $7 million development initiative will offer 18 homes and 48 rental units, a community center, a park and a vegetable garden. The goal of the project is to rebuild a neighborhood that will have a foundation in affordable homeownership combined with access to employment, health care and educational resources.

"Providing affordable housing to our residents will have long-lasting effects on the city's quality of life and gives families hope for the future," Moran said. "These funds will be used to assist low-to-moderate income families realize the dream of home ownership."

  • Mount Penn will receive $324,189 to benefit its Glen Terrace Improvement Project.

Schwank said the investment of state funds will help the borough provide a long-term solution to the issue, which improves accessibility and walkability in the neighborhood and provides a much-needed upgrade to stormwater infrastructure in the area.

"As a small community with limited resources, Mount Penn officials have done an excellent job in addressing a temporary solution to a large problem in the Glen Terrace neighborhood," Schwank said. 

"The Glen Terrace improvement project is the type of project I love to see undertaken in my community because it addresses multiple issues by repairing damaged stormwater pipelines while improving pedestrian and traffic safety," state Rep. Mark Rozzi added.

  • Wyomissing will receive $60,000 to renovate the Berkshire Heights Playground.

"This project will make vital and much-needed improvements to the Berkshire Heights Playground," state Rep. Mark Gillen said. "I'm thrilled to see the borough receive funds to help the playground be more accessible to children and safer for them and their families to gather and play."

  • The Schuylkill River Greenway Association will receive $55,000 to help finance the feasibility study regarding the expansion of the Schuylkill River Trail from Reading to Hamburg.

Rozzi and Schwank said that while roughly 75 miles of the trail has already been completed, this specific study will help determine if the path can be extended to help connect more communities throughout the region.

"The investment of these state funds will help the organization explore ways to further enhance and expand the trail so even more people can enjoy its amenities," Schwank said. 

  • Muhlenberg Township will receive $60,000 for the Laurel Run Creek Riparian Buffer Project.

Schwank said the investment will help the township implement essential repairs to stabilize the streambank, protect surrounding parkland areas and improve stream flow and water quality.

Schwank said last year she walked along Laurel Run with township officials to see the streambanks that have been damaged by erosion.

"This is a necessary and important project for Laurel Run Creek," Rozzi said. "Riparian buffer projects allow valuable waterways to recover by restoring the creek to its more natural state."

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