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Mercersburg square project takes shape

August 28, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - They're finally getting around to the square in Mercersburg.

Workers have just about reached the halfway point in a $150,000 makeover of the public square in this southern Franklin County community.

Most of the money to pay for the project is being raised through a private fund-raising campaign that began in 1994 by the Beautification Committee of Mercersburg, a committee of nine citizens headed by Betty Stenger of Linden Avenue.

Stenger said last week that the committee has raised more than $130,000 so far.

Most of the money is coming from the sale of memorial bricks, many of which have already been laid in a pattern in the sidewalk on the east side of the square, where the work is nearly finished. Workers have begun tearing into the old concrete sidewalk on the west side last week.

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The bricks carry the name of individuals, families, organizations and businesses and industries. Stenger said.

She said more than 800 have been sold so far with another 200 expected to be sold by spring. The new bricks will be set into the sidewalk at that time, she said.

The work includes, besides the new brick sidewalks, granite cobblestone buffer areas and tree wells to break up the brickwork. New Victorian-style street lamps are also being installed. Several are already in place on the east side of the square. Money for the lamps was donated too, Stenger said.

The project will be completed sometime in early October, said Greg Myers, a spokesman for Eagle Construction Co., of Greencastle, Pa., the firm doing the work.

When workers tore up the edge of the street abutting the sidewalks that ring the square, they uncovered the old cobblestones that paved the streets of town in the 19th century.

The project was designed free of charge by Victoria Steiger-Olin, a landscape artist and Mercersburg native who now lives in the Philadelphia area, Stenger said.

The basic configuration of the square will remain the same following the upgrade, said Borough Manager James Leventry.

Commerce around the square is changing with the beautification project. Several new businesses have moved into vacant stores to bring new life to the downtown core and bring full tenancy to that part of town.

The newest is Mueller's German Bakery, which opens next month. It moved into a vacant space last occupied by a general store, Leventry said.

Al's Pizza, another newcomer on the square, opened this spring. Next door to Al's will be Abagail's Angel, a new gift shop, according to Leventry.

Allfirst Bank occupies the northwest side of the square and south of that is the Mansion House, a restaurant and bar and long-time tenant.

Other improvements in the downtown area will include a new set of traffic control lights at the intersection of North Main and Oregon and Park streets which will be installed by PennDot in the next few weeks, Leventry said. Also, Park Street, which has been on the list of streets to be repaved for nearly a decade, is now being done, Leventry said.

Stenger said a dedication ceremony for the beautification project will be scheduled for October.

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