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School eyes Letterkenny space for study center

December 16, 1997

School eyes Letterkenny space for study center

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An educational environmental center may become a fixture at Letterkenny Opportunity Center if the federal government approves a proposal from Chambersburg Area School District.

The school district has preliminary plans for a center for environmental and agricultural studies on 250 acres at Letterkenny Army Depot - part of 1,500 acres the Army is transferring to Franklin County for industrial development.

Though details are not yet final, the center would be similar to the Tayamentasachta Environmental Center on East Leitersburg Street in Greencastle. Plans call for renovating existing athletic fields, building a nursery and greenhouse, and developing nature trails for use by students and the public.

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"There's a walking trail out there already and a lot of different plants, trees and foliage. It's not like we're starting from scratch," said D. Eugene Gayman, president of Chambersburg's board of education.

The Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority endorsed the school district's proposal at a meeting Dec. 8, support it needs to proceed with the application, said Pam Gaudiose, the authority's executive director.

"It's an exciting opportunity for them," she said.

If the school district decides not to pursue the plan, the authority will apply for ownership.

From this point, the school district will work directly with the Army and the U.S. Department of Education, rather than through the development authority, to proceed with the transfer of the land, Gaudiose said.

If the application is approved, which Gaudiose said seems likely because federal agencies did not exercise first rights to the land, the school district has a year to begin using the land.

It could be a year before the application process is completed, Gayman said. The site will then be developed in phases, probably starting in the 1999-2000 school year, he said.

Money for the project will be set aside in next year's operating budget, but the school district is hoping the Army will donate the property, Gayman said.

The law requires that the school district's plan lives up to what is outlined in the application. An annual progress report of the land's use must be submitted to the federal government, Gaudiose said.

The school district would not be able to sell the land, she said.

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