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Brewery owner pledges $3M for parking deck

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POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WOLF) -- A major donation was announced at a Friday parking authority meeting in Pottsville, where a local billionaire is helping solve a big parking problem.

The Mahantongo Street parking deck is still blocked off after workers found structural problems.

The mayor says an engineer who investigated reported it had a 40-to-50 year lifespan, and was already 47 years old. The design was said to be outmoded.

"There were cables that were laced throughout the concrete and over time, the cables weakened and began to fail, and that's what held together the deck, so there was a potential for there to be a collapse," says city administrator Tom Palomar.

Now, the owner of Yuengling Brewery, about two blocks away, is donating up to $2.8 million to build a new garage.

"Pottsville has really gone down hill, much like a lot of other small communities in the coal regions," says D.G. Yuengling and Son President Dick Yuengling. "We have people in the community that are trying to build up the downtown and get it revitalized and bring business into downtown Pottsville, and we don't have a parking garage!"

"It's a lift that the city needed for moving forward downtown with our revitalization," says Mayor Jim Muldowney (D). "This is really something that's gonna give us a kick in the pants to get it moving."

The parking deck has been closed for about nine months now, and city officials say they had to look for other spaces for people who rent spots here.

A nearby restaurant that only has two spaces is looking forward to more parking.

"A lot of people come and tour America's oldest brewery, which is Yuengling," says ruby's kitchen waitress Nicole Ervolino. "I think it's nice of them to re-build the parking lot. I think it will enhance their business and ours."

The brewery says its donation will help alleviate the parking issues, as its own guests sometimes take neighbors' spots.

"We're so grateful to the Yuengling family. They've done so much for the community in all the years past that i can remember," says Muldowney. "Most of it's been kept quiet. This is one we just couldn't keep quiet."

"I hope it's worth the investment for them, because that's a lot of money. Go Yuengling!" says Ervolino.

"We're not in competition with anybody in that respect, we're in competition with other breweries," says Yuengling. "We're proud to do it and I hope it helps people, and bring this town back to what it was in the 1950s when I was a kid!"

The city expects the new garage to cost more than $3 million. Once a builder is chosen, it's expected to take a year to complete.

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