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Residents question plans for sidewalks, cutting trees

July 20, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - More than a dozen Roland Avenue residents Monday night got the opportunity to comment on and ask questions about a $1 million road reconstruction project that could end up costing them money to install sidewalks and curbs, and to remove trees.

Last week, the borough council discussed the project, including the possibility of a Safe Routes to Schools grant from the state that could ease the burden for property owners who would have to pay for the curbs and sidewalks.

If the grant application is approved, the borough could receive federal funds through the state that would pay 80 percent of curb and sidewalk costs, according to Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

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Using $77 per linear foot as an example, Oyer said the cost of the installation would be about $15 per foot for property owners. Without the grant, the property owners would have to pay the full cost of installation, Oyer said.

"Those trees add a lot of charm to the neighborhood," Curtis Baker of 261 Roland Ave. said of the trees that would have to be cut down within the 60-foot right-of-way. Describing himself as "a conservative tree-hugger," Baker asked if the borough would consider a sidewalk on just one side of the street.

Council President William McLaughlin said the project would not be eligible for the grant if sidewalks are not built on both sides. The sidewalks and bike lanes on the north and the south sides of the street are intended to make it a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists going to and from Faust Junior High School, according to the plan.

The cart way for the avenue would be expanded from 24 feet to 38 feet, which normally would allow parking along the street. Borough Engineer Bob Wagner said the bike lanes would mean no parking would be permitted.

Some residents expressed concerns that widening the road could result in motorists driving faster along a route used by students.

"Too many people see an improved street and see an improved raceway," McLaughlin said.

Rafael Cuesta of 83 Roland Ave. asked if the borough considered putting overhead electric and telephone lines underground as part of the project. The plan calls for utility poles to be moved, but Oyer said the utility companies that own them are unlikely to agree because of the higher cost of underground installation.

Residents also asked about extending electrical, gas and water service to parts of Roland Avenue that are not served by those borough-owned utilities. Oyer said the utilities that serve those properties, including the Guilford Water Authority and Allegheny Power, would have to agree to give up those service areas.

A survey of residents will be conducted to see if there is enough interest to extend borough gas lines, Oyer said.

The project, which covers a distance of approximately 1,800 feet between Cambridge and Scotland avenues, includes improved storm sewers and a traffic signal at Scotland Avenue, according to the plan.

If the grant is not approved, Oyer said residents will be invited to another council meeting to discuss the options.

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