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Waynesboro to receive $195,000 in federal grants

January 22, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Members of the Waynesboro Borough Council learned Wednesday that the borough will receive about $195,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds this year to benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

In recent years, most of the federal handout was spent on borough streets and in an effort to improve the downtown business section.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said following Wednesday's council meeting that he expects the money will be spent on similar projects this year.

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A 15-minute public hearing was held before Wednesday's council meeting so residents could ask questions about the Community Development Block Grant program. Written requests for shares of the funds and comments can also be sent to the borough.

William Krouse, a member of the board of directors for the Waynesboro New Hope Shelter at 25 S. Potomac St., submitted a letter signed by Frank Kocek, interim shelter director, asking the council for $47,300 in block grant funds for repairs and improvements to the roof, elevator and windows of the three-story building that abuts the Waynesboro Fire Department.

The borough fire marshal ordered the shelter closed Sept. 18, the same day Tropical Storm Isabel hit the area. The closing put 42 shelter residents on the street.

A date for reopening the shelter has not been set.

The shelter, opened in April, is run by a volunteer board of directors and has been beset with financial problems.

Krouse said Wednesday the shelter has been awarded a federal Housing and Urban Development grant for $272,658 to build 12 efficiency apartments on the third floor of the building for transitional housing. The money would also pay for staffing, including a counselor, Krouse said.

To get the grant, the shelter has to come up with $140,000 in matching funds. The money the shelter is requesting from the borough's CDBG grant would make up part of the match, Krouse said.

In December, the council said it would include $10,000 in its 2004 budget toward the salary of a downtown promotions manager the borough plans to hire this year once a job description is created. Borough officials hope the promotions manager will attract new business, boost those that are already here and urge building owners to improve their properties.

Ronnie Martin of 1625 E. Main St., a Realtor and developer, said Wednesday the timing is wrong for hiring a downtown promotions manager.

He told the council the effort won't succeed.

Martin explained after the meeting that any new business coming into the area would want to move to Washington Township where construction of a major shopping center anchored by a Wal-Mart SuperCenter and a major home improvement store is on the drawing board.

"Any new business will want to be there," Martin said. "There's more traffic, parking and retail space. The retail space downtown is small and there's no parking."

He said the council "needs to move in a different direction" if it wants to improve the downtown. He didn't elaborate.

Martin also criticized the council for raising taxes every year since 1999. The increases raise an average homeowner's bill by about $30 a year, he said.

He challenged the council to come up with a plan in February to increase the borough's tax base so taxes won't have to be increased again next year.

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