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Firm hired to create plan for improving neighborhood

November 30, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? Chambersburg already has a Main Street program to guide downtown revitalization efforts and has now agreed to hire a consulting firm to draft an Elm Street Revitalization Plan to improve the residential area around the downtown core.

Chambersburg has an Elm Avenue, but the initiative is not about that particular street, said Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc. Elm Street is a state program to provide financial and other support to improve the neighborhoods surrounding downtown areas, he said.

"It is that Utopian image of a tree-lined, sidewalked street," Cullinane told the Borough Council Monday night.

"'Leave It to Beaver' and 'Father Knows Best,'" Council President William McLaughlin said, referring to the idyllic neighborhoods of 1950s sitcoms.

The council approved Downtown Chambersburg's recommendation to hire Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson of York, Pa., to complete the plan at a cost of about $22,000. The firm's services would be paid for by a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Cullinane said.

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Improving the residential areas around the downtown will strengthen it economically, Cullinane said. The plan could eventually lead to state funding of $50,000 to $200,000 a year over four years to implement improvements suggested in the plan, he said.

It could also help in leveraging other state or federal funding and private investment in the neighborhoods, he said. Even if it does not result in additional state funding, Cullinane said the plan will give the borough "the basis for doing things down the road ... as funds become available."

Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson was recommended because it will "get down in the neighborhood and interface with the public," Cullinane said. The firm likely will use the borough recreation center on Third Street as a base of operations while developing the plan between June and March 2007, he said.

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