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Square renovations get poor reception

November 12, 1997

Square renovations get poor reception

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A meeting on the future of the public square Wednesday night shed little light on a subject that stirs the emotions of borough residents, many of whom have said they want the square left as is.

The Mainstreet Waynesboro, Inc. meeting at Trinity United Church was attended by only about 25 residents, a poor showing, according to Mayor Louis Barlup.

The speakers were attorney William Dick, Mainstreet president, and three officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, including Jeffrey P. Weaver, a project development engineer.

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Plans to improve the square date back to 1964 when proposals to "enhance it" surfaced in a borough comprehensive plan, Dick said. Changes are still years away, officials said Wednesday night.

The latest issue is a PennDOT plan to upgrade seven traffic lights that control the flow of traffic along Pa. 16, the borough's main street, plus a complicated system of lights that govern the flow through the square. About 20,000 vehicles pass through town every day, officials said.

The state wants to bring the system up to modern standards and improve pedestrian safety at crossings at the square, Weaver said. The problem is that the square is too wide to install a modern system. The sides of the square would have to be extended into the street to accommodate such a system and many residents, including some at Wednesday's meeting, oppose such a move.

Several downtown merchants said they didn't like three of PennDOT's proposed square renovation plans on display at the meeting. All would take some of the square's 18 parking places. The proposals, plus a large model of the square on a table Wednesday night, have been displayed at previous meetings on the issue.

The new signal system would cost about $800,000, financed mostly by federal funds, Weaver said.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger, who favors the modernization, said the borough may soon have to start paying for expensive repairs on its aging traffic control system. Hamberger also said the federal government could withdraw its funds at any time.

Dick showed a video of the public square in Hummelstown, Pa., near Hershey, which he said closely resembled Waynesboro's square and its traffic problems. Hummelstown solved them by bringing the square into the street so the new traffic system could be installed.

The project was finished off with new brick walkways, planters, fountains, a clock tower and trees. It cost about $500,000, Dick said.

Weaver said it may be possible to modernize Waynesboro's traffic control system by replacing all the lights except the ones in the square, an idea that seemed to please some residents.

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