KANE — WestPenn Power Sustainable Energy Fund has announced the purchase of 63 N. Fraley St., next door to Laughing Owl Press, formerly the Moose of Kane.
Plans for the building are still in their infancy, but include clean energy upgrades and the potential for a multi-building elevator.
The WestPenn fund’s executive director, Joel Morrison, said, “When we first looked at the building, we realized that the biggest obstacle to the use of the 2nd and 3rd stories of a building was the lack of an elevator. We began to investigate elevator options for the PA Wilds Media Lab, and thought about the potential of a multi-building elevator model that could really expand the impact of our investments in Kane.”
He added, “We see a unique spark of community partnerships and entrepreneurial investment here in Kane and in the PA Wilds, and our efforts and investments build upon one another.”
WestPenn is helping the Kane Area Community Center as well, he explained, with a building energy audit.
“We hope to help with the long-term sustainability of that building and organization,” Morrison said. “These building investments will help to elevate Kane and the PA Wilds as a true model for sustainable energy, main street revitalization and accessibility.”
Michelle Palmer, executive director of the Kane Area Community Center, said, “We’re excited WPPSEF is making KACC a part of this initiative; our historic main street building is a community anchor that serves so many families, community service providers and local organizations. The community center is excited to improve our facility to better serve the needs of our community and appreciates the opportunity to work with WPPSEF.”
Local officials are thrilled with the project as well.
“Outside investment like this is a testament to the collaborative momentum of Kane’s revitalization,” said Melanie Claubaugh, a member of the Borough of Kane Council and the Kane Area Revitalization Enterprise. “This new growth has taken many years and many committed partners, but we’ve finally reached a tipping point. We’re thrilled to have a new partner like WPPSEF that will help us progress in ways that benefit both property owners and the planet.”
Morrison said a plan is in development for the former Moose building.
“There could be space for private businesses the community is lacking, professional work space, a museum or tourist attraction… there are many possibilities,” he said. “First things first, is to secure the structure, modernize it with green energy technology, and make it accessible.”
WPPSEF has teamed up with PA Wilds Center in the past, helping it create marketing materials to better tell the story of several high-performance conservation visitor facilities that have come online in the Pennsylvania Wilds in the past few years, such as the Elk Country Visitor Center, Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park, Nature Inn at Bald Eagle and the visitor center at Kinzua Bridge State Park. All of the facilities are owned by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a longtime partner in the effort to grow nature tourism in the region. WPPSEF also featured PA Wilds Center and the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, another Wilds partner, as part of its Quiet Ones video series. Those projects are featured at www.pawilds.com/stewardship.