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Falling Spring evolution continues

July 26, 2000

Falling Spring evolution continues



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A new and significantly scaled down version of the Village on the Falling Spring was unveiled Wednesday for the Chambersburg Borough Council.

"This started out as a private commercial development with public amenities," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said of the village, which at one time included plans for two office buildings and had a price tag of more than $10 million in private and public funds.

The new plan is only for public improvements along the confluence of the Falling Spring and Conococheague Creek, and changes to Montgomery Alley. The cost would be approximately $2 million in federal funds for construction with $500,000 from the borough for design and engineering costs, Oyer said.

The borough and Chambersburg Area Development Corp. had agreed last year to an exchange of downtown properties, with the borough giving the corporation two lots along the waterway to develop as office sites.

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A borough couple filed suit against the exchange, however, and in January the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court declared the land swap invalid.

The development corporation would have built on and leased one of the sites, but talks with a potential tenant fell through after the court decision. A smaller site near King Street would have become offices for Noelker and Hull Associates, a Chambersburg architectural firm.

The development corporation site has been removed from the plan. The site where Noelker and Hull was to have built would, under the new plan, be sold to the highest bidder, according to Oyer.

Local historians and veterans groups opposed the original plan, preferring that the site, known as Chambers Fort Park, be made into a memorial to the borough's founders and veterans.

Oyer said the new plan addresses those concerns by preserving what is believed to be the spot where Benjamin Chambers built his fort in 1734.

The council has explored the idea of statues honoring the Chambers family, going as far as having a model made by a sculptor. Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said the statues and pedestal would cost about $120,000, for which the borough is seeking a state grant.

Dr. Harry Haddon, an opponent of the original plan, said veterans probably would be willing to help raise funds for the memorial.

"We'll see if the veterans and the historical people want to put their money where their mouth is," Council President Bernard Washabaugh said.

"I'm troubled by the lack of revitalization opportunity" in the new plan, said Councilman Carl Helman. The council voted unanimously to approve the concept, prepare the one lot for sale and begin talks with owners on properties involved in the Montgomery Alley Improvements.

Oyer said construction on the park improvements is at least a year away.

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