Shuster smooths road struggle

August 29, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -It's been a long, bumpy road driven by lawsuits, letter-writing campaigns and countless meetings fueled by angry residents who couldn't easily get to and from their homes.

But U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., has managed to smooth things over by securing $300,000 in funding through the state Department of Transportation for repairs to Meadow Grounds Lake Road.

Shuster, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, joined local residents, Fulton County Commissioners and other state and local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning on the 1.269-mile road about one mile west of McConnellsburg off U.S. 30.


"The residents who live on top of the ridge behind us have worked long and hard at finding a way to improve this dangerous stretch of road," Shuster said.

The road started out as a narrow, dirt access to Meadow Grounds Lake built by the state Game Commission in the late 1950s, according to Ayr Township Secretary Denise Grissinger. The Game Commission then leased the property for use by the state Fish and Boat Commission, which opened the property for fishing and hunting, Grissinger said.

A conflict began in the early 1970s, documented by letters filed with the township, when people began building homes on the mountain, using the dirt road as access, as did sportsmen.

As more and more people began using the road it fell into disrepair with nobody accepting responsibility for maintenance or snow plowing, a job left to the residents.

"It's been a big, political nightmare," said Ben Heckman, who built a house just off the road in 1979.

Little progress was made over the years though countless meetings were held by officials from Fulton County, Ayr Township, the state Department of Transportation, the state Game and Fish Commissions and numerous politicians.

Residents, particularly families with children who had to meet the school bus at the end of the road, began circulating petitions and eventually formed an organization that filed a lawsuit against the township.

It was the letter-writing campaign to Shuster that finally got attention.

"I wouldn't quit. I just kept writing letters," Heckman said. "We finally got it resolved with a lot of support and hard work from everyone."

Once work is completed by Hagerstown contractor C. William Hetzer Inc., the township will take over the road, Grissinger said.

"I'm looking forward to a good road and being able to open my windows in my home without having all of the dust come in," Heckman said.

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