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Consultant - Letterkenny private jobs coming next year

March 26, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The consultant mapping out a plan to reuse 1,500 acres at Letterkenny Army Depot said Wednesday the first of 2,500 private-sector jobs should be available by this time next year.

The New Century Business Park, as the complex will be called, will provide 10,000 jobs and will be the region's premier economic development resource when it's complete in about 20 years, said John H. Alschuler Jr., president of the consulting firm drafting the master plan.

The Franklin County Commissioners have to sign off on the plan before it can be sent to the Army for approval. Alschuler said the Army should turn over the first of the 1,500 acres by this time next year. The Army will turn the land over in phases.

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Alschuler said it will be a few months before the Franklin County Reuse Committee, the agency appointed to develop and fill up the new park, can begin negotiations with prospective tenants.

Alschuler said that within a year there could be 2,500 new jobs in the park and another 2,000 jobs in outside firms supporting those inside the park.

When the park is finished, 650 of the 1,500 acres will be dedicated to a mix of light and heavy industry, office and administration complexes, community and open space, warehousing, possible public residential developments, warehousing and distribution and roadside commercial development. The rest would be taken up by open space, roads and utilities.

Anschuler said there are more than 32 miles of roads, paved and unpaved, in the 1,500 acres.

The Army opened Letterkenny as an ammunition dump in 1941. Today the complex covers 19,000 acres. The Army will retain 17,500 acres. The base is not closing and will still maintain much of its ammunition storage and weapons repair capability. Downsizing dropped Letterkenny's employment from 5,000 jobs to about 2,100.

Alschuler said preparation for the business park will take $20 million in state, federal and local funds to repair roads, water and sewer lines and electric service and build a better access road from the base to Interstate 81.

Pollution, left by more than 50 years of military use, should have little effect on private industrial and commercial development in the 1,500 acres, Alschuler said. The federal government will handle all environmental cleanups, he said.

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