ASHLEY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It hasn’t happened in this Luzerne County community for over 50 years, but it’s about to happen in a big way with a major renovation project set to get underway.
Ashley covers a one square mile area and has a population of around 1,000 people. We’re told when all is said and done, you might not recognize this town.
“It is the biggest thing we’ve done in years,” John Gibbons, Ashley Council President said as he showed us plans for the streetscape project.
“We are going from one end to the other, so no part of it will be left out,” Gibbons said. “It’s our main street project. Following the initial Main Street project, there will be a facade project, which will be a facade grant program.”
That first phase will involve a three block area on Main Street near the former borough building.
“We will be taking utility wires and things like that and putting them underground,” Gibbons explained. “Putting in new street lamps and benches, shrubbery, basically beautifying the town.”
Ashlee and Scott Martinelli purchased a former bank building on Main Street last year, their hope is the project will give people a reason to come to this downtown.
“America is made of small towns. I think that’s where everything starts. Big towns grow from small,” Scott Martinelli, owner of Grand Bank Event Venue said. “We got to appreciate the small town and the opportunity to enjoy the local flavor of what is here.”
This project is not just about appearances, it’s also about attracting new businesses to Main Street.
“The main thing with the businesses coming in we can continue to not raise our taxes,” Ashley Council President John Gibbons said.
According to Gibbons, the borough received state grants of about $350,000 for the first phase of the project, The total cost will come to $3.3 million dollars and is expected to take 8 years to complete, which the borough plans to seek additional grants to complete the work with.
Phase one will begin in about four months and is expected to be finished by early next year.
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