Bellefonte reimbursed for waterfront project


BELLEFONTE — It has been a few months since Bellefonte finished its approximately $6 million facelift along Spring Creek’s waterfront and a large portion of the $3 million the Bellefonte Borough matched has been reimbursed.

For the facelift, which included a walkway and stone floodwall, the borough received a $3 million match-required Redevelopment Capital Assistance Project (RCAP) grant to help fund the project. During its Monday night meeting, Bellefonte Borough Council announced that the borough has received approximately $2.7 million from the Pennsylvania Office of Budget, thanks to the RCAP reimbursement grant. This grant money was received last week, according to Assistant Borough Manager Don Holderman.

The full $3 million reimbursement is not expected from the state but another $100,000 to $150,000 is expected, Holderman said. The difference will be made up with money from the future sale of the adjoining land, which once was home to the historic Bush House hotel until it was destroyed by fire in 2006.

It is the borough’s hope that a new hotel might take the place of the former hotel, along with commercial space.

“We’re working on an RFP to market the property and then we also have another interested party that we’re working with,” Holderman told The Express.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 5 for the completion of the waterfront walkway, which stretches along Water Street between Lamb and High streets and includes benches, lights along the walkway for nighttime and stairs into the creek to allow for fishing and kayaking. The project broke ground in the spring of 2015.

In other business, an update on Bellefonte’s upcoming startup incubator was given at the work session held prior to the regular council meeting. According to Vana Dainty, coordinator for Keystone Community Development Organization, or BelleKey, the lease for the recently found home of the incubator has been put together and will be signed very soon. On Oct. 18, Dainty announced to council that the startup space, aptly named SpringBoard for the nearby Big Spring, will be housed at 120 S. Water St., across from Talleyrand Park. The property is an estimated 1,400 square feet and will hold enough space for 12 entrepreneurs to work on starting their new businesses.

At the Oct. 18 meeting, Dainty asked the Borough for $50,000 to help with some necessary building modifications and marketing support to attract tenants. During the Tuesday night work session, Dainty said the project now only needs between $2,500 to $5,000 from the borough, as BelleKey has been reaching out to other places for support.

The end goal, BelleKey board member Nick Lingenfelter said at the previous meeting, is to help grow the local economy with these new entrepreneurs, who will work in the incubator for 12 to 18 months and then move on to grow their businesses.