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Support remains for veterans park, statue in Pa.

September 19, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Plans are moving ahead for a veterans park and statue honoring Chambersburg's founding family, although the Village on the Falling Spring project has been delayed by a legal challenge and regulatory hurdles.

A clay miniature of a statue honoring the Chambers family was unveiled Thursday at a meeting of the Chambers Fort Park Committee. The statue, by Wayne Hyde of Bedford, Pa., shows founder Benjamin Chambers welcoming son James and grandson Ben back from the Revolutionary War in 1781.

The committee has completed designing a memorial near the confluence of the Falling Spring and Conococheague Creek downtown, according to Councilman Thomas L. Newcomer, chairman of the committee. The statue would be the centerpiece of a park at the Village on the Falling Spring.

Two other parts of the village project, however, have been delayed, according to Chambersburg Area Development Corp. Executive Director David G. Sciamanna.

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North of the park would be offices for Noelker and Hull, an architectural firm that has already spent more than $1 million renovating a former warehouse into office space nearby. South of it would be an office building for a firm with which the corporation has been negotiating.

"Noelker and Hull is willing to ride it out," Sciamanna said of a legal challenge by a Chambersburg couple to an exchange of borough and corporation lands and the historical and environmental reviews required by the Federal Highway Administration and Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission.

The other project "is very fragile," Sciamanna said.

The suit by Frederick and Kaye Fox was dismissed in county court, but they have appealed to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Sciamanna said. About $2 million in federal funds and $8 million in private investment is being held up until the legal and regulatory issues are resolved, he said.

"I don't think we're going to sit back and do nothing," Newcomer said. The park committee has approached State Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Franklin, about state funding for the $120,000 statue, but also is forming a new committee to explore corporate and private funding options.

"I'd really like to see the people of Chambersburg given the opportunity" to help pay for the statue, said committee member Byron Ashburn.

"Get the kids of the community involved with their pennies, nickels and dimes," committee member Will Pananes said.

Newcomer said the park should go forward, despite delays in the rest of the project. In the meantime, Hyde could be commissioned to do the full-size statue.

Newcomer said the statue could be placed somewhere else in the borough until the park is ready.

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