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Valley Terrace hailed as 'affordable housing for families'

October 28, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Crystal Faust is one of dozens of people waiting "for that call" that will tell them they are among the approved tenants in Valley Terrace Town Houses, Waynesboro's newest low- to moderate-income housing facility.

The 22-unit complex was dedicated Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Bonnie Zehler, executive director of the Franklin County Housing Authority, which owned the land under it, and the Valley Community Housing Corp., the nonprofit group that was created to find the $2.6 million to build it.

The project was controversial during its planning stages two years ago, when neighbors opposed its construction and members of the Waynesboro Borough Council filed suit against it.

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The rancor seems to have melted away in the years since. No one, neighbor nor council member, had anything disparaging to say at Thursday's ceremony.

Waynesboro Mayor Louis Barlup, along with other officials, held the ribbon for the ceremony.

Councilman Al Porter, whose house is adjacent to the complex on West 10th Street, fought it two years ago.

"I was opposed, but it's here, so we have to learn to live with it," said Porter, who was at the dedication.

Two years ago, then-Council President Douglas Tengler and then-Councilman Clint Barkdoll claimed in their suit that the market study Valley Housing used to support its application to the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency for funds to build the complex was flawed. They said it misrepresented the need for the project.

Barkdoll said Thursday that those legal issues have long been settled.

"The place looks terrific," Barkdoll said. He did not attend the ribbon cutting.

Completion of the project was delayed when mold was discovered in some of the buildings during construction.

According to Benjamin Newcomer, chairman of the Valley Community Housing Corp., eliminating the mold and repairing the damage was estimated to cost $180,000.

Newcomer said who ultimately will be responsible will be "resolved down the road."

Asked if the corporation should bear any of the cost, he said, "I wouldn't think so."

Construction of the complex, with its 14 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, plus two handicapped-accessible units, began a year ago, Zehler said. The project is spread over five buildings, including a community center.

The first 11 tenants will move in Tuesday. The target date for the final 11 tenants to move in is Dec. 1, Zehler said.

Rents in the complex are not subsidized, but the funding package, which includes an interest-free, long-term loan, allows the corporation to keep the rents down, Zehler said.

Three-bedroom units will rent for $460 per month, and two-bedroom units will rent from $316 to $345 per month, Zehler said.

Valley Terrace Town Houses was built behind Mount Vernon Terrace, an 82-unit complex on Fairview Avenue owned by the Franklin County Housing Authority. The authority also owns 60 family duplexes at the Valley View development on Hawbaker Avenue and 60 units for older and disabled residents on Elder Avenue, all in Waynesboro, Zehler said.

Faust, 28, is a single, working mother of two little girls. She was carrying one of the girls in her arms as she went through the unit that was open for tours Thursday.

Faust said she and her girls are living with Faust's mother in a crowded apartment in nearby Mount Vernon Terrace on Fairview Avenue.

She said she applied at Valley Terrace, but hasn't heard anything yet.

Karla Oller, 47, and her mother, Anna Oller, 82, will move into a two-bedroom unit in Valley Terrace in December.

They, too, were going through the open apartment Thursday to see what life would be like in their new digs. They applied a year ago, said Karla Oller, who is on disability. She and her mother live in an apartment complex on North Church Street.

"We'll be glad to get out of there," Karla said. "The rent will be cheaper here and there's more room."

The Ollers were reveling in what they were seeing in the apartment with its bright painted walls, crisp new carpeting, one-and-a-half baths, oodles of closets, abundant windows, well-equipped kitchen with its new appliances, including a garbage disposal, and a washer and dryer behind folding doors.

Each unit has a rear porch and ample parking for two vehicles out front.

Zehler called Valley Terrace "a beautiful facility in Waynesboro."

Newman called it "affordable housing for working families."

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