For several local communities, Santa didn’t come this year in his usual red suit and white beard. Rather, St. Nick appeared in the form of the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks’ board of directors, which recently approved grants totaling $3.9 million to eligible municipalities. The monetary awards were announced during a public meeting held on Dec. 13 at the Redevelopment Authority’s office in Bristol Borough.
The funds were generated by the gaming facility at Parx Casino in Bensalem, and will be used for a variety of municipal projects that include infrastructure improvements, municipal upgrades, human services, emergency services and equipment for law enforcement and firefighters.
Prior to the reenactment and amendment of the gaming law in 2017, only the municipalities contiguous to the casino as well as the county and Bensalem Township were eligible for grants.
Sen. Tommy Tomlinson introduced language that authorized those municipalities wholly within a contiguous municipality to be eligible for grant funds.
“The Redevelopment Authority is proud to support these types of projects that address gaming’s impact on our region,” said Sean Schafer, chairman of the Redevelopment Authority. “I would like to commend Sen. Tomlinson for his leadership when drafting the gaming legislation and for introducing language that made key changes to the law in 2017. His vision has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being used locally to address gaming’s impact on our region.”
Since the inception of the Municipal Grant Program in 2008, the Redevelopment Authority has awarded more than $45 million for eligible projects. The municipal grant application process is administered by the Redevelopment Authority and offered along with application guidance to each of the eligible municipalities.
According to Jeff Darwak, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, more than $6 million in application requests was received in 2019.
“This year, we saw, and were able to support, a lot of projects that involved collaboration amongst multiple jurisdictions,” he said. “It is great to see municipalities building partnerships through this program. These projects will address gaming impacts and alleviate some of the financial burden from the taxpayers in the impacted communities.”
Grants awarded include the following: $153,327.71 for Bensalem emergency responder radio replacement; $70,000 for Bensalem Township fire/EMS upgrades; $60,000 for YWCA Family Center Support Center; $133,702 for Bucks County Rescue Squad ambulance acquisition; $51,322 for Bristol Borough Police patrol vehicle acquisition; $109,000 for Bristol Borough pedestrian traffic signal upgrades; $18,729 for Bristol Township Municipal Complex expansion project; $20,000 for Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad exhaust capture system; $600,000 for Lower Bucks County Public Safety Training Center; $50,000 for Lower Bucks County Vietnam Veterans Memorial; $56,763 for Langhorne Borough Police Department vehicle acquisition; $250,000 for Lower Southampton road improvements; $143,190 for Lower Southampton Police vehicle and camera system; $24,971 for Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad radios; and 101,928 for Middletown Township Public Works vehicles.
The total amount distributed was $3,932,049.71.
“Applications presented by the municipalities represented a wide range of projects,” said Schafer. “Each year, the Redevelopment Authority board and staff spend many hours reviewing the applications before the final decision is made. I am pleased that we can help these communities to address infrastructure needs, improve the quality of life for families, and make our Lower Bucks County community safe.” ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com