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Waynesboro officials, residents weigh in on plans for square

June 30, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said the plan would eliminate the "no man's land in the middle of the square."

East Second Street resident Paul Engelstad said part of the plan looked like "a walkway to a Nordstrom Department Store at Montgomery Mall."

Hamberger said the project is needed to move traffic safer and faster through the borough's busiest four-way intersection. Engelstad agreed, but said he wants Public Square to be an aesthetically pleasing focal point of the community.

The council compromised Wednesday when it unanimously agreed to go with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's plan to install a new overhead traffic-control system in the square.

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At the same time, the members agreed to hold off on a decision on how the pavement should look.

PennDOT's plan calls for two separate brick walkways running north and south off Church Street.

Engelstad referred to it as a walkway in a shopping mall.

"It's like a stake right through the square," Engelstad said. "This is the heart of where the downtown all comes together. I don't accept that this is the best downtown Waynesboro can have."

West Third Street resident Andrea Struble said she was shocked when she saw PennDOT's plan for the square, which has been on display in Borough Hall since mid-June.

"The brickwork bisects the square. It obliterates it," Struble said. "This will forever alter the unique character of the downtown."

With the thousands of new homes being built in and around Waynesboro, Struble said downtown, with its historic integrity intact, can be a historic gem.

Other speakers wanted the entire square bricked in, an idea that didn't sit well with council members.

Hamberger said he visited Gettysburg, Pa., to see how traffic flowed through that borough's busiest intersection.

Gettysburg doesn't have a square, Hamberger said. It has a roundabout much like the one in Chambersburg, Pa. Traffic flows around the fountain in four directions through the intersections of U.S. 11 and U.S. 30.

Waynesboro's square brings Pa. 16 and Pa. 997 (Church Street) together.

Hamberger said there isn't enough room to put a fountain in the middle of the square.

The annual Christmas tree is set up in the square, but that no longer will be possible with the new design.

The tree might end up in one of the square's corners, Hamberger said.

PennDOT plans to spend $1.2 million for a synchronized system through the borough, from Clayton Avenue west through the square to Grant Street.

A new traffic light at the intersection of South Potomac and West Third streets will be part of the system.

PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said earlier this month that bids on the project could go out this fall, with work to begin next year.

PennDOT's plan also establishes left-turn lanes in each direction for access to North and South Church streets.

Hamberger said the council has been wrestling with the problem since the mid-1980s.

In 1998, the council sent PennDOT a plan to bring all four sides of the square into the middle. Four years later, the council, with new members on board, voted to restore the original open design.

That decision forced PennDOT to charge the borough $30,000 to pay for the design work already done on the first proposal.

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