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Money for program is available in Waynesboro

July 24, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - In 2002, the Borough of Waynesboro received approval to distribute up to $50,000 a year to property owners restoring the facades of businesses in the town center zone between Clayton Avenue and Fairview Avenue.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger had expected more people to take advantage of the grants.

"We've done 12, I believe, or 13," Hamberger said.

Notable projects include TranquiliTEA at 117 W. Main St., Attic Storage and Sheffler's Uniform Shop at 44 E. Main St. and the former Beck & Benedict Hardware building at 84 W. Main St., he said.

The facade improvement program matches the property owner's restoration costs dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000. It is federal money funneled through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the borough's five-person design review committee.

Funding may be spent on exterior repair, painting, architectural renderings, awnings and signs, according to program literature.

"Some are a couple thousand (dollars) and some are $20,000," Hamberger said.

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Applicants may split their projects over several years to receive the maximum funding for each phase, said Jim Fisher, chairman of the design review committee.

"In most cases, we didn't really fund the whole project. They applied to fund part of it," Fisher said.

Potential applicants seem to be scared off by writing grants themselves or the "bureaucratic nightmare" that sometimes accompanies submittal to the state, Hamberger said. That "nightmare" is often worsened if the state decides a building is historic, he said.

"Most of the buildings we've done are not considered historical," Hamberger said.

The stipulation that property owners follow the Bacon-Davis Act for prevailing wages often seems pricey and can prove frustrating, Harry Morningstar said.

However, the waiver for single owner-operated companies can alleviate that headache, said Morningstar, who has done several projects through the program.

The money is out there and waiting to be spent, Morningstar said. He'd like to see more people take advantage of the program.

Fisher said the design review committee is available to sit down with any applicant to discuss and guide the project.

The design review committee meets monthly and today plans to examine paint chips for 306 W. Main St., where Little Frattelli's Pizza is on the first floor, Fisher said. The property owner has plans to remove the siding and attempt to preserve the original wood underneath, he said.

"I think right now there are four projects ongoing. ...I would definitely encourage people who own property in the downtown area to look at (the program)," Fisher said. "If you know where to look (for these properties), it's really neat to walk down the street."

Facade restoration money also is available for properties facing Main Street between Clayton Avenue and Virginia Avenue.

Other initiatives to help downtown business owners include an incentive grant started by state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams/York, and another facade grant program being developed by Main Street Waynesboro Inc., Fisher said.

"Right now, we're writing the guidelines for that program," he said.

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