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Vision statement may bring borough's plans into focus

October 10, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro officials are hoping to receive a $175,000 state grant to hire a downtown promotions manager who will work full time trying to revitalize the borough's business district.

MainStreet Waynesboro Inc. is taking the lead on the project.

One requirement that needs to be met before the grant can be applied for is completion of a vision statement explaining what the borough's business and residential communities want to see in the downtown area 10 years from now, said William Fontana, executive director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in Harrisburg, Pa. His agency is being paid $5,000 to do the study that will form the basis for the vision statement.

James Fisher of MainStreet Waynesboro Inc. said members felt the study was beyond their ability.

"We wanted a professional to do it," Fisher said.

The Waynesboro Borough Council, which has appropriated $10,000 toward the promotions manager's eventual salary, agreed to let the MainStreet group use half of it to pay Fontana's agency for the study.

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Fisher said those doing the study will target anyone with a stake in the future of downtown Waynesboro. That would include merchants, property owners, professionals, residents, fraternal, veterans and other organizations, churches, borough officials, shoppers, "anyone who uses Main Street will be involved," Fisher said.

The process requires four public workshops or forums to learn local opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of downtown and what the community wants to see in the future, said MaryBeth Hockenberry, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce.

Fontana will write the vision statement based on findings of the study and public meetings. If the borough gets the grant, the $175,000 would come in over five years. A $90,000 local match, also to be spent over five years, is required.

Dates for the public meetings have not been set, but Hockenberry said the process would be finished before the end of the year.

The goal, she said, is to have a manager on board by sometime in July 2005, "if we can get in the state's funding cycle."

Fontana said the mission of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, a nonprofit group, is helping municipalities to revitalize downtown business districts.

"One problem (promoters of) downtowns have is that they tend to think about what (their downtown areas) should like as opposed to how they should be economically," Fontana said. "We're going to help Waynesboro's downtown create an economic vision of its future 10 years from now rather than a physical vision of what it will look like."

Fontana said his staffers will search computer links to learn about the Waynesboro area.

"That will tell us a lot about the area, where people go, where they eat, what they do," he said.

The key to success is whether Waynesboro is ready to commit the investment of money, time and effort to make it work, Fontana said.

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