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United Way of Lancaster County


City secures funding for study of prison site

An overhead view of the Lancaster County Prison. (Source: Google Maps)

City Hall has secured the last component of the funding it needs for its upcoming study of the Lancaster County Prison site and the neighborhood around it.

The state Department of Community & Economic Development has approved Lancaster’s application for a $122,500 grant from the Municipal Assistance Program, Mayor Danene Sorace told City Council this week.

That will be added to a $25,000 Keystone Communities grant, $40,000 in federal block grant funding and $12,500 in city matching funding to reach the $200,000 budgeted for the study.

It is being done in anticipation of redeveloping the County Prison site next to Reservoir Park once the county’s new correctional facility in Lancaster Township is completed and prison operations are relocated. The county’s timeline calls for starting construction on the new site next year and taking occupancy in late 2026.

The county owns the existing prison site. The expectation is that it will go to a third-party developer; Mayor Sorace has said the city does not have the capacity to assume ownership itself. Rather, city planners want to work with the eventual owner on making the property a “community anchor,” one that complements its surroundings and provides space for locally focused retail, such as a neighborhood grocery.

The study, known as a “small area plan,” will evaluate both the prison site itself and the surrounding blocks. Besides the $200,000 budgeted, the city anticipates allocating staff time valued at around $92,000 over the 18-month course of the project as an in-kind match, city spokeswoman Amber Strazzo Righter said.

A consultant will assist with the study; staff are evaluating the submissions received in response to the city’s request for proposals and hope to announce the outcome next month, Strazzo Righter said.