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Falling Spring project in Chambersburg moving forward

November 26, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The project no longer really involves a village, but after nearly a decade of planning and some setbacks, work should begin next year on the Village on the Falling Spring.

Bids have been advertised for the project, which covers an area bordered by the Conococheague Creek on the west and North Second Street on the east and from King Street in the north to Lincoln Way West in the south. The bids are due to be received by Dec. 20, according to Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

The bid request is based on engineering specifications which put the estimated price tag at $2.5 million, Oyer said. Former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster secured $2 million in federal transportation funds for the project several years ago and the borough has provided approximately $500,000 in engineering and other services, Oyer said.

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If the bids come in higher than the $2 million available for construction, Oyer said the project is bid in such a way that portions can be deleted.

"We hope to get this thing rolling in the spring of '05 and complete it by the end of the year," Oyer said.

The centerpiece of the project is an expansion and enhancement of the Fort Chambers Park at the confluence of the Conococheague and Falling Spring. Part of a municipal parking lot will be turned into greenspace and handicapped-accessible walkways will be built.

One footbridge across the Falling Spring will be moved and another will be built across the Conococheague to connect the park to the planned rail trail on the creek's west side. The mile-long rail trail is scheduled to be built in 2005, Oyer said.

Space in the park also has been set aside for a memorial to the Chambers family, which founded the town in the early 18th century and a memorial to Franklin County veterans, Oyer said. The memorials would be an appropriate place for gatherings on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, he said.

Spring Street, which starts at Lincoln Way West and runs north to the Rosedale parking lot, will be extended north to King Street, according to the plan. The walkways, extension of Spring Street and improvements to the Rosedale lot should increase pedestrian and vehicle access to the park, Oyer said.

East of North Main Street, Montgomery Avenue will be improved with parking on the north and south sides east to Central Avenue, along with landscaping and walkways. Montgomery Avenue east of Central Avenue will be made a two-way street, Oyer said.

The Village project dates to 1995 when Downtown Chambersburg Inc. helped produce a downtown revitalization plan, which was incorporated into the borough's comprehensive plan two years later, Oyer said. The Heritage Center and the Capitol Theatre Center are elements of the plan that have been completed, Oyer said.

The Village on the Falling Spring project initially was envisioned to include two professional office buildings, but court challenges caused it to be scaled back, Oyer said. The architectural firm Noelker and Hull eventually did buy one plot of land and constructed its building along the Falling Spring, he said.

By making the natural resource of the Conococheague and Falling Spring a focal point, Oyer said the Village project should attract more people and commercial activity downtown.

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