Over $21 Million in State Grants for Redevelopment
On August 1, 2019 I had the pleasure to announce that multiple projects in the 1st District have been awarded $21,882,000 in state redevelopment grant funds.
Through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), grants are distributed to projects across the state that deal with the acquisition and construction of regional, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvements.
“These grants contribute greatly to the continued growth and improvements in our city,” said Farnese. “These projects are all very different, but they all work towards making the many aspects of our city accessible, well maintained, and a destination for both work and fun. Furthermore, the projects will create and sustain many jobs that will help the city’s economy thrive”.
Projects receiving RACP grants include:
- $1,000,000 for the William Way LGBT Community Center and improvements and upgrades to their historic building.
- $1,500,000 has been awarded to the Yards Brewing Company Brewery and Taproom to renovate the brewery’s production and entertainment spaces.
- $3,000,000 has been awarded to Industrial Metals Manufacturing, LLC for the historic renovation of Building 57 in the Navy Yard which will be used by the US Navy, contractors, and subcontractors for the designing and construction of submarines.
- $1,000,000 was awarded to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation for the creation of their Equal Justice Center II.
- $2,000,000 has been awarded to Barracks Holding, LLC to create a 230+ full service hotel in the currently vacant Navy Yard Barracks.
- $4,000,000 for the Kimmel Center, Inc. for the Merriam Theater-Kimmel Center Phase 1 improvements.
- $1,500,000 was awarded to the Pennsylvania Ballet Association for completion of the multipurpose Pennsylvania Ballet Dance Center.
- $1,700,000 for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and their Art Core II project to continue updates to the museum and improve visitor experiences.
- $1,000,000 for Leopard Real Estate Partners, L.P. for the creation of the Proto Brewery Hotel.
- $1,480,000 for the Schuylkill River Development Corporation which will complete about 3,000 feet of construction on the multi-use Schuylkill River Trail.
- $702,000 for WHYY and improvements to their production and public facilities.
- $2,000,000 for the 1801 Vine Street Development Partners LP for the renovation of the former Family Court Building into a hotel, and preservation of public spaces to access the historical aspects and art of the building.
- $1,000,000 for Parents United for Better Schools, Inc. to complete the MCSCS Gymnasium Addition.
Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program – Now Open
The Department of Agriculture announced on the first grant program made possible by the PA Farm Bill. The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program will provide $500,000 in funding to increase market opportunities for the Commonwealth’s urban agriculturalists. These grants will build out the infrastructure of urban agriculture by investing in the system, filling gaps, encouraging entities to work together, finding ways to bring operations to a greater scale, overcoming food deserts, and opening opportunities for people to become entrepreneurs. For more information on the grant program, click here. Interest parties can apply by clicking here. The application deadline is September 6, 2019.
PA General Assistance – Ending August 1st
Starting August 1, 2019, the Pennsylvania GA Cash Assistance Program will end. PA 2-1-1 is available for anyone to contact and will assist in finding local services that may be able to help. You can also visit www.compass.state.pa.us to determine if you are eligible for other assistance programs, such as TANF. For more information or questions, feel free to stop by or contact my district office at 215-952-3121 for help.
Opposing Changes to the SNAP Program
I stand with my Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus colleagues in opposition to the proposed eligibility changes for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. 200,000 people across Pennsylvania would be harmed by these changes, many of whom are households with children. We should not cut benefits to those that need help the most help.
DEP Offering Grants to Small Businesses and Farmers
On Friday July 26, 2019, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the availability of $1 million in grant funding to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage grant program. New to the program this year is the opportunity for small business owners to install solar hot water systems for their business operations.
Eligible projects include adopting or acquiring equipment or processes that reduce energy use or pollution. Examples of eligible projects are HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency LED lighting, solvent recovery and waste recycling systems, and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks.
Last year, around 200 small businesses were awarded more than $947,000 in grants for their projects. Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and investing in agricultural stormwater management projects, with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.
Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption, or pollution-related expenses.
Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $7,000 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Only costs incurred between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, are eligible.
Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2019-20 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2020, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance website. Printed, faxed, and mailed applications are not accepted.
The complete grant application package, which includes step-by-step instructions and instructional videos for completing the online application, is available by visiting the DEP Small Business Ombudsman’s Office website.
Hearing on Improving Veterans’ Services
On July 23rd, I had the pleasure of joining my colleagues on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee in Pittsburgh for a policy hearing on how we can improve Veterans’ Services across the Commonwealth. We had great testimony from agencies around Pennsylvania. Thanks to everyone that participated in the hearing to support Pennsylvania Veterans!
Property Tax/Rent Rebates
Applications for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are now available for eligible Pennsylvanians to begin claiming rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2018. The deadline to apply for a rebate is June 30, 2019.
For more information and details, please contact my district office at 215-952-3121 or click here.
PFT Healthy Schools Tracker App
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has launched the PFT Healthy Schools Tracker Mobile App which is available for Android and iPhone. This app allows users to identify specific problems with building conditions in schools and includes the ability to submit photos. The app can be downloaded for FREE from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. For more information, click here.
SEPTA Announces Ground-Breaking Sustainability Initiatives
At its July 25 meeting, the SEPTA Board approved three sustainability projects that reinforce SEPTA’s commitment to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Together these projects, which include a solar power purchase agreement, a solar-powered train signal system and a comprehensive energy retrofit of its headquarters building, represent the continued progress of SEPTA’s award-winning Sustainability Program, SEP-TAINABLE.
SEPTA has been a transit industry leader in sustainability by focusing on projects that both make financial sense and lay the foundation for a green future. These projects will enhance SEPTA service today and better prepare the Authority for future challenges. SEPTA continues to seek avenues to use the industry’s best available technology to improve the sustainability, resiliency and reliability of the system, and these projects reflect major strides towards each of these objectives.
The three projects are described in greater detail below.
Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
SEPTA has reached a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy energy from two solar farms located in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The two solar farms will generate 35 MW of power, one of the largest solar projects in Pennsylvania to-date. With a planned operational date of 2021, they will be financed, built, owned and operated by Lightsource BP with SEPTA as the sole recipient of the energy produced. The agreement will help SEPTA meet its sustainability goals and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55,750 metric tons of CO2 annually – the equivalent of burning over six million less gallons of gasoline each year and providing energy to more than 7,100 homes annually.
The energy generated will provide an estimated annual total of 71,765 MWh, or approximately 19 percent of SEPTA’s 380,000 MWh per year electricity demand. The energy will be provided at a fixed cost of $28.65 per MWh with no price increase for 20 years.
As part of the agreement, SEPTA will receive Green-e® certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which will certify that SEPTA meets the highest environmental and consumer protection standards in North America.
Solar Power Reinforcement for Regional Rail Signal System
SEPTA will become the first major transportation agency to use solar technology to reinforce power for rail signal systems at this scale.
The $16.2 million project is funded in part by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration under the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, designed to improve transit systems during severe weather events. This solar power signal implantation eliminates the need for conduit and external wiring and will allow SEPTA’s system to run for 48 hours if the normal power source is lost.
Under this project, the Warminster, Doylestown and West Trenton Lines will be outfitted with solar power reinforcement for signals. SEPTA initially tested the technology on the Chestnut Hill West Line, with positive results.
1234 Market St. Headquarters Energy Retrofit
SEPTA signed an agreement with Constellation New Energy, a leading retail energy supplier, to provide energy conservation measures (ECMs) at SEPTA’s headquarters at 1234 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. The energy saving contract (ESCO) agreement recommends $13 million in ECM project initiatives that will generate $18 million in guaranteed energy savings which will be used to pay for the project over an 18-year contract period.
The ESCO at SEPTA headquarters not only supports sustainability goals to reduce energy consumption, water consumption, and GHG emissions, but it supports the 2030 District, a larger regional effort to reduce the environmental impact of buildings in Philadelphia’s urban core. The initiative brings together property owners and managers with professional and community stakeholders, local governments, and utilities to achieve voluntary reductions in energy and water use, and in transportation emissions by the year 2030. SEPTA is a founding member of the 2030 District, which is run by Green Build United.
Improvements to the 1234 Market headquarters, which was originally built in 1974, include:
- Installation of LED ceiling lights
- Lighting controls including daylight sensors and dimmers
- Solar controlled electronic window shades
- Perimeter weather sealing
- Water efficient fixtures
- Intelligent HVAC system controls
More information about SEPTA’s sustainability initiatives is available at http://www.septa.org/sustain/index.html
SEPTA Key Updates and Reminders
SEPTA REMINDS CUSTOMERS THAT SOME KEY CARDS EXPIRE JULY 31
SEPTA would like to remind customers that some Key Cards will expire on July 31, 2019. Key Cards are valid for three years, and the expiration date is printed on the front of all cards. Complete information about replacing expiring cards is available on SEPTA’s website at: http://septa.org/key/register.html.
The Key Cards that will expire on July 31 were among the first issued to customers as part of the Early Adopters Program in summer 2016. Customers who have registered their Key Cards will be able to transfer Travel Wallet funds and unused one-day passes onto new Key Cards before or after July 31.
SEPTA strongly urges any customers who have not registered their Key Cards to do so now. It takes only a few minutes to register your Key Card online at https://www.septakey.org/ or by calling the SEPTA Key Customer Call Center at (855) 567-3782. SEPTA also encourages customers with expiring Key Cards to replace them to ensure they do not experience any disruption in travel.
Before July 31, customers have options for replacing their expiring cards:
- Use the remaining Travel Wallet funds or unused one-day pass onto their card, and then purchase a new card at any station Fare Kiosk, SEPTA Sales Location, or at one of more than 450 External Retail Network locations
- With a registered Key Card, transfer current Travel Wallet balance or unused one-day pass at one of nine SEPTA sales locations, which are listed at http://septa.org/key/register.html
- Transfer Travel Wallet balance or unused one-day pass by calling the SEPTA Key Customer Call Center at (855) 567-3782
- For TransPass customers, purchase next Weekly or Monthly TransPass on a new Key Card at any station Fare Kiosk, SEPTA sales location, or through the External Retail Network
Customers replacing expiring cards will receive a credit for the $4.95 new card fee by registering their card online within 30 days of their purchase at https://www.septakey.org/. All customers are urged to register their Key Cards to protect from loss and theft.
Please share on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEPTAKey/status/1154738262486999040
SEPTA KEY ROLLOUT CONTINUES ON REGIONAL RAIL
The rollout of the SEPTA Key on Regional Rail is expanding in August.
All fare kiosks in the unpaid areas of the five Center City stations (University City, 30th Street, Suburban, Jefferson and Temple University) are now operational. The kiosks can be used to purchase Key Cards loaded with Weekly or Monthly TrailPasses, or one-day passes, and to reload Regional Rail passes.
SEPTA has set dates for transitioning the sale of Monthly and Weekly TrailPasses to the SEPTA Key:
- Zones 3 & 4 – Beginning the week of Monday, August 12 (passes available for purchase as of Wednesday, August 7), Zones 3 and 4 Weekly TrailPasses will only be available on the SEPTA Key Card
- Zones 1 & 2 – Beginning the week of Monday, September 9 (passes available for purchase as of Wednesday, September 4), Zones 1 and 2 Weekly TrailPasses will only be available on the SEPTA Key Card
Monthly Trail Passes
- Zones 3 & 4 – Beginning with the October Monthly pass (passes available for purchase starting September 20), Zones 3 and 4 Monthly TrailPasses will only be available on the SEPTA Key Card
- Zones 1 & 2 – Beginning with the November Monthly pass (passes available for purchase starting October 20), Zones 1 and 2 Monthly TrailPasses will only be available on the SEPTA Key Card
One Day Independence Pass
- As of September 3, there will be no on-board purchases of One Day Independence Passes. Customers can continue to purchase paper Independence Passes at Regional Rail sales offices, or load them onto Key Cards.
Please note that some customers who receive employer-sponsored passes and/or through a pre-tax benefit may continue to receive legacy TrailPasses beyond these dates
Complete details about SEPTA Key on Regional Rail is available on SEPTA’s website at: http://septa.org/key/updates/2019-weekly-monthly-trailpasses.html
Travel Wallet Minimum Load/Re-Load Lowered to $1.00 at Station Kiosks
SEPTA is reminding customers that the minimum load for the Travel Wallet on SEPTA Key Cards has been lowered to $1.00 at station kiosks.
SEPTA tested the $1.00 minimum loads at selected kiosks this spring, and it is now available for customers at all Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line stations. The $1.00 load option is available for customers using cash, debit or credit cards for transactions at SEPTA Key Kiosks.
SEPTA made this change in response to feedback from customers who asked for a lower minimum load. With the $1.00 option, customers have more flexibility to add funds to their Key Card as they travel. By using the Travel Wallet on the Key Card, customers ensure that they get the discounted $2.00 single-ride fare and eligible $1.00 transfers.
This is the latest change made to the SEPTA Key in response to customer feedback – and the second aimed specifically at addressing the concerns of riders who may need to replenish their Travel Wallet on a daily or per-ride basis with cash. SEPTA took a first step in this direction last year in lowering the minimum Travel Wallet load from $10 to $5.
SEPTA reminds all customers to register their SEPTA Key Card as soon as they purchase it to protect against loss and theft. Also, by registering within 30 days of their purchase, customers will receive a credit to their Travel Wallet for the $4.95 new card fee.
The newly overhauled Key e-commerce website is also helping customers get started with the new payment system, and easily manage their accounts. The updated site is more intuitive, with a fresh design and layout. It is a responsive website, meaning it automatically adjusts its display for any device, such as Apple and Android phones and tablets. It is also easier to load fare products, get news and information about the SEPTA Key, manage your account, access trip history and add or remove payment method.
ACANA African Festival at Penn’s Landing – August 4th from 2-8pm
The annual ACANA African Festival at Penn’s Landing will be held on Sunday, August 4th from 2-8pm. The festival will be made up of the traditions from the African continent. There will be dance performances from various dance troupes, authentic food from local vendors, traditional clothing, crafts, and more. For more information and details, click here.
Family Fishing Event – Schuykill Banks Park – August 8 from 5-7pm
The Fish and Boat Commission will be hosting a Family Fishing event at the Schuylkill Banks Park on Thursday, August 8th from 5-7pm at 2401 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19103. Equipment and bait will be provided free. License requirements are also waived for participants over the age of 16. However, registration is required.
For more information and to register for this event, click here.
Bug Fest at The Academy of Natural Sciences – August 10th & 11th
The Academy of Natural Sciences will be hosting a two-day event with the focal point on Insects from August 10th trough August 11th. Throughout the festival, you will be able to have discussions about bugs with scientists, see insect specimens, bug shows, and even enjoy some bug snacks.
For more information and tickets, click here.
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