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Main Street group sets high goals for downtown Waynesboro

December 16, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A major step in bringing downtown Waynesboro back to a time when it was a viable commercial and residential center is the hiring of a professional to lead the community in the right direction to reach that goal, an official with a local volunteer group said.

MainStreet Waynesboro Inc., a nonprofit group of local volunteers, is leading the effort.

One of the first items on MainStreet's agenda is applying for a $175,000 grant to run over five years to hire the professional and get the effort under way. To qualify for the grant, the community has to come up with a local $80,000 match in cash or in-kind services, also over five years, said James Fisher, secretary of MainStreet Waynesboro's Board of Directors.

No more than 30 percent of the $80,000 can come from a single source, Fisher said. The Waynesboro Borough Council, which has appropriated $10,000 toward the goal, can be one source for local match money, he said. Downtown professionals, businesses, and fraternal and service organizations also will be tapped.

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The state grant application must include a vision statement on how the downtown's business and residential communities see the area a decade from now, Fisher said.

This will be done through a series of four public meetings beginning Jan. 4. Anyone with an interest in the future of Waynesboro's downtown is encouraged to attend the meetings.

Included would be clergy and church organizations, professionals, business owners, property owners, residential and commercial tenants, real estate agents and public officials - "anyone who has a stake in the future of downtown Waynesboro," Fisher said.

"We want people to come to the meetings and tell us what they see, what's right and wrong with downtown, what needs to be done," he said.

Some obvious issues already have come to light, he said.

"We know we have problems with crime, littering, loitering, noise, traffic congestion, dirt, lighting and empty stores," he said. "There are too many submarginal businesses and underutilized buildings."

MainStreet Waynesboro hired a consultant from Pennsylvania Downtown Center, a nonprofit group in Harrisburg, Pa., that helps communities run MainStreet programs. The consultant will run the meetings and write the vision statement reflecting the opinions of those at the meetings. Much of the application will be based on the statement.

The goal is to have a professional on board sometime next summer.

Fisher, who moved to Waynesboro with his wife, Alice, about two years ago, believes downtown Waynesboro has much going for it already, even if it has flaws.

"When you drive through, you can see its wonderful Victorian and pre-Victorian architecture and bay windows. It's unique in Pennsylvania in its completeness. Almost all of the buildings are still here," he said.

The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. at the Elks Club at 66 W. Main St., and will be on the following Mondays: Jan. 4, Jan. 24, Feb. 21 and March 21.

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