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Survey completed as Waynesboro seeks grant to hire manager

July 24, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - There are 132 buildings in downtown Waynesboro from Fairview to Clayton avenues - all of which were counted and checked for condition and occupancy by members of MainStreet Waynesboro Inc. during a survey in April.

The survey was done by James Fisher, secretary of the board of directors of MainStreet Waynesboro Inc., Ernest Brockmann, its past president, and Caryl Stalick, a volunteer.

The survey represented the first phase of an effort to apply for a $175,000 state grant to pay for a downtown manager whose duties would be to promote the revitalization of the business core and recruit businesses to fill it up.

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The second phase, now under way, will be drafting an application for the money from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

The grant requires $90,000 in matching funds. In-kind services would account for some of the match, but the lion's share has to be cash, Fisher said.

Area businesses, financial institutions, real estate agencies and the local government would be tapped for the money.

The April inventory showed that 89 percent of the buildings surveyed are owner-occupied. The rest are owned by absentee landlords.

Only 2 percent of the buildings surveyed are considered to be in poor condition, 13 percent are in fair condition, 41 percent are in very good condition and 12 percent are in excellent condition.

Concerning their age, 47 percent were built before 1900, with the rest built between 1900 and the 1960s, according to the survey.

The survey also reported that 45 of the buildings are occupied by retail businesses, 37 by service businesses, 11 by entertainment or cultural enterprises, nine by professionals and seven by government agencies.

The survey was done "by eyeballing the buildings," Fisher said. "None of us is an architect.

"We were very surprised at the number of buildings downtown that are in good or pretty good condition. It was much higher than we thought it would be."

"There are too many submarginal businesses that are not always open, have no people in them or don't have signs," Fisher added.

The solution, he said, is to bring in businesses that will contribute to Main Street.

Waynesboro also could use a place where people can gather during the day such as a coffee shop, preferably on Public Square.

"Other towns have places like that, but Waynesboro doesn't," Fisher said.

Waynesboro is a great place to walk around, said Fisher, who moved here and bought a home on East Second Street two years ago.

"The neighborhoods are wonderful and there are sidewalks everywhere," Fisher said. "We really like it here."

The second phase of the downtown revitalization effort, in addition to drafting the grant application, is to seek the opinions of local residents on what they see as being needed in the community.

A series of public meetings will be scheduled in the fall to gather those opinions, Fisher said.

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