Deadline nears for park expansion ideas

March 06, 2001

Deadline nears for park expansion ideas

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Village on Falling SpringCHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Local groups interested in contributing ideas of what to do with an expanded Chambers Fort Park have less than a month to get their thoughts together.

The Chambersburg Borough Council imposed an April 1 deadline last fall, but the issue came up again at last week's council meeting.

Allen Melius, commander of the Joint Veterans Council of the Chambersburg Area, said his group continues to feel excluded from the process of designing the park, which will triple in size with the development of the proposed Village on the Falling Spring.


Melius expressed the group's dissatisfaction with the park's boundaries and the denial of its request to meet with the engineers.

The group is responsible for coming up with a design for a memorial to honor area veterans.

Melius said it's hard for the group to come up with a design without knowing what the contour of the ground will be.

"It's hard for us to even visulize what the park will look like without knowing that," he said.

The only definite plans for the park are the construction of the veterans memorial and a statue honoring Benjamin Chambers, founder of Chambersburg, said Councilman Tom Newcomer.

"I don't think the council has made a decision about what's in the park. Anyone has until April 1 to bring anything to the council," said Bernard Washabaugh, council president.

Washabaugh said it was the council's position not to have individual groups meeting with the planner because of the cost involved.

The council adopted the blueprint of the park about five months ago. Plans call for the elimination of much of the existing blacktop to expand the park, which is between King Street and Lincoln Way East, south of Main Street.

"The council has adopted boundaries. They are clear and won't be changed," Washabaugh said.

He said the council will not reconsider an archaeological dig the veterans suggested earlier because it would be an additional expense and the state historical commission does not require it.

In April, the council will take on the task of deciding what else will go in the park.

"We said April 1. I hope when that comes, you will bring back any recommendation of whatever design you think people would like to see," Washabaugh said.

Melius said he was disappointed with the council's position, but the veterans group will meet Wednesday to try and come up with a design for the memorial.

As part of the plan, the statue committee is trying to raise the $125,000 necessary to build the statue of Ben Chambers.

The proposed figure shows Chambers welcoming his son and grandson home from war.

"All we've been doing is trying to raise the money and determine how to place the statue so it could be there as a terminus of parades," Newcomer said.

The Village on the Falling Spring began as a private commercial development with public amenities. At one time, it included plans for two office buildings and had a price tag of more than $10 million in private and public funds.

The current plan is for public improvements along the confluence of Falling Spring and Conococheague Creek, including an enlarged park with a memorial to Chambers, a foot bridge across the creek to connect the park with the Rails to Trails project, improvements to Spring Street and some changes on the east side of North Main Street to Montgomery Alley.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will supervise the project.

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