The state of Pennsylvania has put a freeze on the $3 million grant The Second Mile was slated to get for its new learning center, the future of which seems uncertain.
The nonprofit, founded by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, had planned to build the 45,000-square-foot facility on a site at Bernel and Fox Hollow roads near University Park Airport. Centre County had helped The Second Mile obtain a $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to help pay for the $9 million project.
But, a little more than a week after Sandusky was charged with sexual abuse of minors, the county no longer wants to be part of the project.
On Monday, the governor’s office confirmed that the funding is on hold in light of the sex abuse scandal. The grand jury that investigated Sandusky has said he met his alleged victims through The Second Mile.
“It’s suspended while the matter is being reviewed further,” said spokesman Eric Shirk.
The county, which would have acted as a conduit of the funds, notified The Second Mile on Monday that it does not want to be involved in the project.
“There are some serious reservations about the ability of The Second Mile to get the matching funds” said Louis Glantz, the county’s attorney.
“(Commissioners) would like to see the funds redirected to another project in the county.”
Commissioner Steve Dershem said that, given the current situation, it’s unlikely the project will move forward and he isn’t comfortable having the county administer the $3 million grant.
“I don’t think there’s any way this learning center is moving forward, and I’m hoping the money will be available to be utilized somewhere else in the community,” Dershem said.
The Second Mile serves young people from across the state in year-round and summer programs, and the facility was supposed to provide a centralized place for those initiatives. David Woodle, the group’s new leader, said the project is under review.
In August, The Second Mile officials said the facility would take about 16 months to build with a target of opening in spring 2013. While the state had approved the grant, no money from it had been released. The grant is matching, which means the organization has to raise the same amount. The state money wouldn’t have been paid up front, but would have been provided to The Second Mile in the form of reimbursement of expenses.
State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, said it is not likely that The Second Mile would be able to get the matching funding.
Overall, Corman said the situation is “one more layer of the sadness of this whole event.”
“You start with kids who were abused, and you go on from there. For our entire community, it’s extremely sad. This is a small part of it, but it was a part to help kids,” Corman said.
“But now it will probably not happen.”
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