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NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Another revitalization effort is underway in New Castle, Lawrence County, as a group called 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania kicked off a $1.35 million investment on that city’s South Side.

“This year, we’re going to look more at housing, new residential housing development,” said Tom Hardy, the western Pa. director of the organization, “and we’re gonna work on assembling some sites on the South Side that have been targeted. We’re working with the city of New Castle, Lawrence County Land Bank.”

In the past, 10,000 Friends has worked to eliminate blight through lead abatement, rehabilitating homes, increasing urban green space, and completing a local playground.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“First year’s activities were really focused on addressing some of the blight, and then looking at, again, the playground as basically an amenity for the children that are in the neighborhood,” Hardy said.

This year’s project includes help for homeowners who want to incorporate abandoned land next to their residences into their own.

“If there’s a, basically, a tax delinquent property lot that’s next to them, we’re going to help. We have some resources to help them acquire that as a side lot and then basically incorporate that into their property,” Hardy said.

The 10,000 Friends program has been funded in part by UPMC Health Plan, First National Bank, and First Commonwealth Bank.

The announcement of the work was delivered at the Gussie Walker Community Outreach Center in New Castle, which has received help to expand their programs.

“They do an after-school enrichment program for school-aged children, so we help support that as well,” Hardy said.

This is part of a six-year revitalization plan, says Hardy.

The neighborhood partnership program is part of the state’s Department of Community & Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.

The focus is on long-term planning for specific neighborhoods in distressed and low-income areas.

New Castle’s South Side is just the latest beneficiary.