Mercyhurst College, the city of Erie, Erie County and Pennsylvania state officials join forces with residents of a multi-block target area to turn a four-year $1 million state grant into a neighborhood revitalization reality as the commonwealth’s 13th “Weed and Seed” program kicks off in Erie today. The Mercyhurst College Civic Institute worked with the city of Erie to write the grant proposal that brought the $1 million program to Erie, part of an effort that began in March.
Gov. Mark Schweiker toured the neighborhoods impacted by the program with Mayor Rick Filippi, District Attorney Brad Foulk, a group of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students from McKinley Elementary School and others to mark the official start of the local Weed and Seed program that targets the area bordered by 12th Street, 26th Street, East Avenue and Cranberry Street.
The Weed and Seed program starts at the federal level in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs. Funding is funneled through each state into local communities willing to tackle neighborhood revitalization. On the local level, the program is a comprehensive approach to law enforcement, crime prevention and community revitalization.
The state and city police will tackle the first priority under the new program, “weeding” the criminal elements out of the neighborhood.
While that is being accomplished, the Mercyhurst College Civic Institute will lend its resources and expertise to the teams of neighborhood residents who will guide the revitalization effort in the target area as part of the “seeding” element that works to create a neighborhood revitalization plan unique to the area.
The goal of “seeding” efforts is to prevent crime and violence from recurring in neighborhoods through coordinated efforts of law enforcement and social service agencies, the private sector, and the community.
Programs will be developed to improve living conditions, enhance home security, allow for low-cost physical improvements, develop long-term efforts to renovate and maintain housing, and to provide educational, economic, social, recreational, and other opportunities to residents – all tailored specifically for the target area in Erie.
Unlike many revitalization programs, Weed and Seed programs begin at the grassroots level, with local residents guiding the process.
Other Pennsylvania sites include Chester, Easton, Lancaster, Norristown and York.