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Park upgrades driving borough plan on Falling Spring

July 25, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - There would be more park and less parking spots along the east bank of the Conococheague Creek in downtown Chambersburg under the long-delayed and much-changed plan for the Village on the Falling Spring.

The Chambersburg Borough Council Tuesday authorized approval of an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that should finally free up $2 million in federal funding appropriated for the project several years ago by former Congressman Bud Shuster.

The plan includes improvements in pedestrian walkways, parking, traffic flow and more open space on the east and west sides of the first block of North Main Street, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. The borough's local match is $500,000, much of which has gone into design work.

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Although it still was referred to as the Village on the Falling Spring at Tuesday's meeting, the village portion was dropped in 2000 because of a lawsuit challenging a land swap between the borough and Chambersburg Area Development Corp.

That would have included two buildings for professional offices and shops at the confluence of Conococheague Creek and Falling Spring. One of the buildings was to have been built by the architectural firm Noelker and Hull and the second larger one by the development corporation, which would have leased it out.

The plan still will expand a small park where the two waterways meet and include a foot bridge across the Conococheague. The bridge would connect the park with the proposed rail trail that will run along the creek's west bank. The area where the park would be expanded is the little-used back section of a metered borough parking lot.

Oyer told the council the agreement is different in that the borough, not the transportation department, will manage the project. He said it took six months to work out the agreement of the project, which officials initially had hoped to begin last year.

"Now it's our project to bid, award and inspect, and eventually get constructed," said Oyer, who made no predictions on a timetable for construction.

Councilman Carl Helman asked if that meant the borough will have to absorb all the administrative costs and any overruns. Oyer said the borough will be responsible for any costs over the $2 million in federal funding.

"We've got to see ... what this is truly going to cost and go from there," Oyer said.

East of North Main Street, the project would improve parking and build walkways along an east to west alley called Montgomery Avenue. The half of the alley behind the Franklin County Courthouse is now one-way, but would become a two-way street.

Part of Central Avenue, a north to south alley between Lincoln Way East and King Street would be vacated to allow for further expansion by the King Street United Brethren Church.

Oyer said the improvements have been under consideration since the borough began developing its downtown master plan in 1995.

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