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Downtown group eyeing park statue depicting borough's founders

October 10, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A full-size clay model of the Founding Fathers statute will be on display in downtown Chambersburg on Saturday during AppleFest, giving residents a look at what will eventually be the centerpiece of Fort Chambers Park.

The statue depicts founder Benjamin Chambers welcoming his son, Col. James Chambers, and grandson, James, as they returned from the Revolutionary War. A mold of the statue, the creation of Bedford County, Pa., sculptor Wayne Hyde, has yet to be made and money for that and the bronze casting still has to be raised, according to Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc.

The organization, honored last month as the Best Main Street Program of 25 years, by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, hosted a town meeting Wednesday to review downtown revitalization efforts over the previous year and preview upcoming projects and programs. Among them was the Village on the Falling Spring project, which Cullinane said will begin in November.

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"It will probably be the end of next year before everything is finished," said Councilman Kenneth Gill. By then, he said, about $4 million in state, local and private funding will go into the project, which will expand Fort Chambers Park and make improvements to streets, alleys, walkways and utilities in the downtown.

The statue will cost about $140,000 to complete, with about $13,000 more needed to make the mold and approximately $50,000 more for the casting, Cullinane said. To raise that money, Cullinane said engraved corporate, family and individual paving blocks that will go around the base of the statue are being sold for $1,000, $500 and $50, respectively.

Repairs to the Capitol Theatre, closed since a partial ceiling collapse on April 30, will be completed by Nov. 18, Cullinane said. About $45,000 still has to be raised to pay for the $315,000 repairs, in which the entire ceiling in the 78-year-old theater was replaced.

In its first year of operation, Cullinane said the Heritage Center on Lincoln Way East attracted 16,000 visitors from all 50 states and 16 countries.

The center, which also houses the offices of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster and the Franklin County Law Library, is now fully occupied, he said.

Downtown Chambersburg also is applying for a state Elm Street grant, Cullinane said. The $25,000 grant would be used for planning improvements to the residential and commercial area primarily south and east of the downtown, he said.

The Elm Street program has the potential to bring in more than $1 million more in grant funding over four years for improvements to that area of town, he said.

Also being developed with the state are package tours based on the region's Civil War heritage, Cullinane said. The tours will focus on daily life, the experiences of women and children, battleground and troop movements and the contributions of black Americans during the war and tie them in to shopping, dining, lodging and recreation opportunities for visitors.

During the past year, Cullinane said seven new businesses have opened in the downtown and two more have been purchased by new owners. He said downtowns can serve as "incubators" for start-up businesses, which in turn can help attract new residents.

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