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HERMITAGE Santorum to help get project funds



Published: Fri, April 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The senator met with business and community leaders Thursday.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., promised to do what he can to help the city secure nearly $5 million in federal funds for two community development projects.

Santorum stopped in the city Thursday for a brief meeting with about 35 area business and community leaders.

He was asked to lend his support to a plan to relocate the National Guard Armory on North Hermitage Road between the municipal building and Hickory High School as well as a plan for the development of Gateway Commerce Park, a planned technical park on South Hermitage Road.

"We'll work with you on it," Santorum told city officials, although he cautioned that building a new armory is "a very involved process" and not easily done.

New site: The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which has determined it needs more space, however, already has identified a new site for the armory at the intersection of U.S. Route 62 and South Darby Road in the city.

It would be known as the Hermitage Readiness Center, Mercer County, Pa., rather than the National Guard Armory.

Gary Gulla, city economic development coordinator and assistant city manager, said the federal government will have to pay the estimated $4.4 million construction cost of a new armory, and the state would kick in $500,000 to buy the land for the new facility and some related costs.

The old building: The city and the Hermitage School District would take over the old building and use it for recreational and educational programs, Gulla said, noting the school district already runs an alternative education program there for disruptive students, and the city's recreation program makes use of the facility.

Part of the armory land is leased by the city for Rodney White Olympic Park.

State Sen. Robert Robbins of Greenville, R-50th, supports the project and already has introduced legislation to provide the state's share of the cost.

Technical park: The 117-acre Gateway Commerce Park, which would house high-tech manufacturing operations such as computer hardware and software companies as well as offices, needs $500,000 in federal funds to help complete its funding package.

The city has formed a partnership with KAKE Development of Hermitage to develop the park.

Hermitage secured a $2.5 million state grant for the project and is putting $800,000 into the effort. KAKE is putting in $2 million, Gulla said.

gwin@vindy.com




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