Bayfront East Side Task Force, Our West Bayfront Awarded $300,000 Grant for Home Improvements

Posted: January 4, 2018

Two nonprofit organizations working to revitalize Erie's east and west bayfront neighborhoods have been awarded a $300,000 grant to help fund their efforts.

The grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development will allow the Bayfront East Side Task Force (BEST) and Our West Bayfront to make repairs to approximately 20 residential properties in order to address code issues and improve the health and safety of the homes.  

BEST and OWB have worked together since 2010, most recently this year to jointly administer a $500,000 grant from Erie Community Foundation, the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund for Transformational Philanthropy, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

"We're happy to be able to have additional resources to bring those homes into compliance and improve the overall appeal of the neighborhood and, hopefully, also improve property values," said Jeremy Bloeser, executive director of BEST.

"This is just another example of the two bayfront neighborhood organizations working in concert with each other," Bloeser said. "We're happy neighborhoods can share in the same resources and have a greater impact."

Replacing roofs, reconstructing porches and replacing windows can send a ripple effect throughout the community, OWB Executive Director Anna Frantz said.

Neighborhood revitalization is "one piece of our city's economic development strategy," Frantz said. "When businesses are looking at investing in the Erie community they're looking at the health of neighborhoods as one piece of the package."

Formed in 1978, BEST works with neighborhood residents and businesses to revive Erie's historic east bayfront through new home construction, home renovation and blight removal; by increasing safety and the availability of activities for youth; by improving communication and cooperation with local government and agencies; and by reviving the image of the neighborhood through streetscaping and beautification projects, among other efforts. The 25-block area served by BEST is bounded by Holland and Wayne streets from East Sixth Street to East Front Street.

Our West Bayfront was created in 2014 by interested residents and community partners from Erie's West Bayfront neighborhoods with support provided by Gannon University.  OWB is guided by the West Bayfront Community Plan, completed in 2016, which identifies a range of strategies to build a better Bayfront and is based on extensive input from neighborhood residents and community members.  The 843-acre area served by OWB is bounded by the Bayfront Connector to the west, West 12th Street to the south, Sassafras Street to the east and Presque Isle Bay to the north, and is home to more than 13,000 residents.