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End is in sight for Village on the Falling Spring plan

April 24, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After five years of changing the size and scope of the Village on the Falling Spring project in downtown Chambersburg, the end is finally in sight.

If the plan stays on track, construction on the park and related designs could begin next year and be finished by the end of 2003, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

"There are no guarantees," Oyer said.

Engineers from Gannett Fleming said they expect to have the design completed by July.

If permits are approved by September, final bidding documents for construction could be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation by October, Oyer said. PennDOT is in charge of administering the $2 million in federal money for the construction.

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Before work on the project can progress, the council had to allocate an additional $15,000 to the engineers Tuesday night because of delays.

The project now includes a park along the Falling Spring and Conococheague Creek, a bridge over the creek connecting the park to the proposed Rail-Trail, walkways, a veteran's memorial and parking improvements. A memorial to Benjamin Chambers, the borough's founder, is also part of the plan.

Part of the project includes parking improvements to lots between the county courthouse and the King Street Church along Montgomery Alley. The borough still has to acquire some land in order to make it work, Oyer said.

"These are walking and parking improvements so people can traverse downtown from Second Street to the Rail-Trail," he said.

The project was first proposed in 1997 as part of a Chambersburg Downtown master plan the borough adopted.

That plan also included upgrades to the Capitol Theatre and Rail-Trail, which are both moving forward.

The initial vision was a village concept, including an office building, shops and parking, Oyer said.

"In late 1998, the project changed significantly when a developer asked to build a large office complex," he said.

The veterans were also pushing to expand the size of the park, and for a time the project ballooned to $5 million.

But the building never materialized, and in 2000 the project was scaled back down to $2 million.

"The large office building has gone away. There is no chance of getting more federal dollars for the project," Oyer said.

Last April, council gave Gannett Fleming an additional $106,000 to finish the project because of overruns for additional meetings. But Oyer said 2001 was also a slow year with more delays, bringing the project to its current timeline.

Councilman Allen Frantz asked if there was a possibility that once the project is turned over to Penn-DOT it wouldn't get done. Oyer said that would not happen.

"This is the end," Oyer said. "We're going to get it done here."

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