HAZLETON -- A state grant recently given to the city of Hazleton will go toward renovating a park in the center of the city.
Ripa Jewelers just reopened on West Broad Street in Hazleton after being closed for 14 years. Owner Jake Ripa says he wanted to come back because of all of the changes that are coming to Hazleton.
"The properties are being repurposed, and it was a major influence in deciding to reopen here," he said.
One of the changes he's talking about is a park located across the street from his shop at the corner of Laurel Street and West Broad Street. The city just received a grant for $200,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to renovate the space.
"It's going to be a really nice park with a plaza, new lighting, benches, trees. It's going to be pretty," said Krista Schneider, director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress.
Another project the city is working on is located right next to the park. It involves renovating an old bank into the city's arts center.
"I think within the next four to five years, you're going to see a real upswing in the downtown community," Ripa said.
These improvements are not only catching the eye of Ripa but also people who go by the park often.
"I see a lot of people sitting at the benches that they do have just on nice days. We do need a little bit more there though," said Karen Flannery.
The city also received other grants bringing the total amount for the park up to $450,000. The city says it needs about $50,000 more to finish the project.
The city hopes to have the money donated and the park project completed by 2019.