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Council shoots down street closing suggestion

February 20, 2002

Council shoots down street closing suggestion



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - At first glance, Chambersburg Borough Council members opposed closing a portion of McKinley Street to create a high school campus, but they have agreed to reconsider the idea if the school district conducts traffic studies.

Dr. Eric Michael, assistant superintendent for curriculum of the Chambersburg Area School District, proposed shutting down the east-west corridor from Sixth to Fourth streets as one option the school board is considering to alleviate overcrowding at Chambersburg Area High School and add the ninth grade to the school.

"This is one proposal, one idea," Michael said. "I think it is advantageous to have a campus environment."

The proposal would expand the existing building and build a new stadium where McKinley Street borders the south side of the high school. Additional landscaping would create a park atmosphere, he said.

"Closing McKinley Street gives us flexibility for design of a campus," he said. "We would like it to be an island in the middle of the borough."

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Michael also cited safety and the possibility of sharing programs at the YMCA, which is across the street from the school, as reasons for creating a campus.

He said adding to the existing high school on South Sixth Street would be the most effective use of resources. If the council does not want to consider closing McKinley Street, he said it could force the school district to look outside the borough for a site for a new high school.

Several council members expressed opposition to the suggestion.

"We have four streets that don't go any place. I don't see how people will want this kind of disruption," Council President Bill McLaughlin said.

"As an individual, I can't see the possibility of cutting off McKinley," Councilman John Redding Jr., said.

He asked if a bridge connecting the current campus to land the school district owns across McKinley would be viable.

Michael said the distance would be too long for students to walk, and one building serving ninth- and 10th-graders and one building serving 11th- and 12th-grade students would still force the school to duplicate programs.

Councilman Ken Gill questioned whether the proposed stadium could be moved to another location to prevent the closing of McKinley Street. Michael said the school board has looked into that, but it would defeat the purpose of developing a campus atmosphere.

While the consensus of the council was to keep McKinley Street open, McLaughlin suggested if the school board wants to keep it as an option to hire traffic consultants to conduct traffic studies and possible traffic patterns and bring them back before council.

"I don't think we want to rule it out completely," Mayor Tom Newcomer said. "I think we out to keep an open mind and look at other traffic patterns."

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