Proposed Clarion Borough park donations earn tax credits

Plans to build a multi-generational public park along Second Avenue in Clarion Borough received a financial boost Tuesday when state approval was given to a combination donation and tax credit effort.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced a series of approvals for its Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), including an application from Clarion Blueprint Inc. that was submitted with the assistance of Clarion-based Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) of Pennsylvania.

For Clarion Blueprint’s “Clarion County COVID-19 Outdoor Recovery Initiative,” the approval means the $447,000 it collected from a series of local donors will earn $335,250 (75% of the total) in tax credits for those donors.

Milissa Bauer co-chairs CSF, and she said earlier this year CSF became involved with the community park project at the request of Clarion Blueprint Inc.

CSF, explained Bauer, had no role in developing the projects listed in the application.

“Blueprint approached me for information regarding tax credits that businesses can obtain for making certain contributions,” Bauer said in an email correspondence with the Clarion News. “The (Neighborhood Assistance Program) is fairly new to Clarion County and Blueprint wanted to use this program to support the Clarion Borough Multigenerational Park,” she added.

While Clarion Blueprint has several projects in mind, the proposed park is in the forefront.

“First and foremost, we are focused on building the Second Avenue Park, which we secured land for in October,” said Jessica Funk of Clarion Blueprint in the organization’s press release. “Approval for the NAP will make it possible for us to start phase 1 of the project, which will include a lot of the engineering, architectural, and infrastructure work needed for the site.”

“We are very excited to begin work on this project and keep the momentum going for further projects in the Clarion area,” Funk said.

Funk noted Clarion has no walkable park within the borough, so building the park will give borough residents a place to gather and play.

“We plan to continue to look for further funding sources to fund not only this park project but also other recreational and improvement projects for Clarion (and the surrounding area),” said Funk.

Clarion Blueprint secured the land for this portion of the project earlier this year with donations from Janice Horn, Miles Brothers LLC and a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

The DCED said the proposed project’s tax credits were awarded under the Special Priorities Program branch of the NAP. The program targets specific problems and priorities in distressed areas as determined by the state.

Additional phases for the proposed park will include a splash pad/ice rink, sport courts, outdoor games, ADA-compliant restrooms and water fountains, as well as a walking and seating area.