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Downtown group IDs 3 top Chambersburg projects

March 16, 2001

Downtown group IDs 3 top Chambersburg projects



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


An organization helping to drive downtown revitalization efforts in Chambersburg outlined its top projects for the borough, although one is facing serious obstacles.

At a semi-annual meeting Thursday evening, Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg, Inc., identified the "big three" as continuing work on the Capitol Theatre, the Village on the Falling Spring and renovations of the Heritage Center.

Behind-the-scenes work has continued on all three for the last year, but Cullinane said he would like to "get all of the big three going this year."

The Capitol Theatre project includes restoring the historic theater on Main Street. Ongoing progress has been made on those efforts.

The Village on the Falling Spring will include some commercial development and an enlarged Chambers Fort Park with memorials to Benjamin Chambers, the borough's founding fathers, and U.S. military veterans.

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"Preservation is about reaching back to our roots and appreciating how we got started," Cullinane said.

Work on the Heritage Center is stalled though, as DCI and the Chambersburg Area Development Corp., which owns the building on Memorial Square, try to get approval for the demolition of the 1956 addition along Lincoln Way East.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has rejected the proposal, saying it considers the addition part of the historic structure.

Plans are to renovate the Heritage Center and demolish the addition, putting in its place a replica of the building as it looked around 1900.

The Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce would occupy the first floor, creating a destination for tourism, and lease the second and third floors for commercial use.

Before retiring, U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster secured $1 million for the rehabilitation of the building, Cullinane said.

"We want to bring it back to life," he said.

Work on the project has not progressed since last spring when the historical commission got its first look at the plans. They have again turned them down, said David Sciamanna, executive director of the Chambersburg Area Development Corporation.

"They rewrite and reinterpret the National Park Service rules as they go along," he said. "We're discouraged, but we're not giving up."

The next step will be to elevate the request to the Keeper of the National Registry in Washington, D.C., and ask them to allow the project to move forward, Cullinane said.

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