An ice rink in the public square?
Workforce, infrastructure among the subjects of the Legislative Forum and a surprise to the WB
WILKES-BARRE – Pandemic, Funding, Workforce, Infrastructure and – What is it? – an ice rink that arrives in the public square.
As the 75 participants finished their coffee and quiche, Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown threw a bomb.
âYou may not have heard of this,â he said. “But we are putting an ice rink in the public square.”
No need for caffeine – the mayor caught everyone’s attention at Friday’s Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce-sponsored legislative forum in the large tent next to the Westmoreland Club on Friday morning.
But before looking for your ice skates to sharpen the blades, Mayor Brown said the downtown ice rink might not exist for two years. But, said the mayor, it will happen. It’s part of the mayor’s plan to bring more recreation to the city. He has already announced the special needs playground which could begin construction by the end of October. And the mayor formed a committee to discuss and plan a skateboard park near the Hollenback golf course.
âThe rink is a future project,â said Brown. âWe don’t have a timetable yet. But I wanted to give those attending the breakfast in the room a glimpse of the future and that future holds promise for the town of Wilkes-Barre.
Speaking at the forum, State Senator Lisa Baker, Township of R-Lehman, State Representatives Tarah Toohil, Township of R-Butler, Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre; and Mike Carroll, D-Avoca; with Mayor Brown, Romilda Crocamo, Acting National Director of Luzerne; and Tim McGinley, chairman of the County Council of Luzerne. WBRE-TV reporter Andy Mehalshick served as moderator.
The Annual Legislative Forum, presented by Geisinger. The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. and attendees can register in person at the Westmoreland Club in downtown Wilkes-Barre, or virtually for a live streaming option. Other sponsors include PPL Electrical Utilities, UGI Utilities, Inc. and PA American Water.
This event provides an interactive way for members of the business community to interact directly with state and local officials and provides an overview of current legislative topics of interest.
Lindsay Griffin, incoming President / CEO of the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber, welcomed lawmakers and attendees to the 8th annual event.
âAttendees were invited to join us in person at the Westmoreland Club’s outdoor tent, or connect virtually to hear our local and local elected officials as they discuss the timely and relevant legislation that impacts our business community, âGriffin said. âThose who joined us in person had the opportunity to network directly with our officials in attendance. “
Carroll said many challenges remain as the pandemic continues and he said many decisions involve risks.
“It’s hard to navigate,” he said. âWe need to find a way to maintain public health while moving the economy forward. It’s not is when you measure risk – it’s really a matter of life and death. “
Pashinski, Toohil and Baker agreed and they each expressed the importance of working together in a unified approach.
Crocamo said it was time for the government to work together for the people.
âIt doesn’t mean we all have to agree all the time,â she said. âWe have a few hampered county workers who never missed a day’s work during the pandemic. We made sure that all county services were provided without interruption.
Crocamo and McGinley said the county has received $ 112 million as part of the US bailout and the county is considering long-term projects that will benefit the county for years to come,
âAnd then we want the public input,â McGinley said. We want to hear from you. “
Mayor Brown has said he wants Wilkes-Barre to become the state’s entrepreneurial capital.
âWe’re about to make a major comeback,â Brown said.
He said the roof of the town hall literally exploded and the elevator needed to be replaced, as did the three story floor of the building. Brown said the city received $ 37.1 million as part of the US stimulus package.
âI want to give the people of Wilkes-Barre affected by the pandemic a stimulus check,â Brown said. âWe have reduced the cost of parking meters and we want to help people finance the purchase of a home. I have had many developers in my office looking for properties to develop. So get ready and hang in there, the city is on its way home.
The group discussed ways to get people back to work. They said education is key, especially jobs in trades and other fields that don’t require four-year college degrees.
âWe can’t allow people to stay home and get paid,â Pashinski said. âWe need to find programs to get people back into the workforce. “
Roads and bridges
Lots of talk about the need for funding to repair roads and bridges to ensure the region’s infrastructure stays in good shape. Carroll, who is the Democratic chairman of the House transport committee, said Luzerne County has many roads and bridges in need of major repairs. He said the interstate road network is essential for economic development.