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Kids win in vote by Chambersburg council

September 26, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Nicholson Square development has one of the highest concentrations of families with young children and next spring they could have a neighborhood park in which to play.

The Chambersburg Borough Council Monday night accepted a proposal from Quad State Investments LLC to switch proposed recreational parcels from a 5-acre area in a corner of the development to 4.5 acres closer to its center.

Bob Hickey, an owner of Quad State, had proposed the borough accept approximately 4 acres for recreation, plus $80,000 to seed the recreation area and put in some playground equipment. That offer was rejected on a 6-4 vote by the council.

The council then voted unanimously to accept about 4.5 acres in the same part of the development, plus about $30,000 for seeding. The developers came up with the half acre by offering to eliminate some residential lots.

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The original proposal had been supported by a number of residents in Nicholson Square, several of whom showed up at Monday's meeting. Quad State wants to put houses on the 5-acre parcel.

Resident Richard Karcher said the 5-acre parcel, situated along a railroad track, would not be good for recreation. The smaller central parcel "will serve the folks in that area pretty well."

"I want them to have someplace to go," resident Mark Darragh said of his three children.

Other residents said the land by the railroad tracks is in too remote a part of the development.

"Bigger is better" when it comes to recreation areas, said Councilman Robert Wareham, who made the motion to reject Quad State's first proposal. The borough's North End currently has no public playgrounds, he said.

"About the only affordable housing being built in Franklin County is in Nicholson Square," said Council President William McLaughlin, who voted against rejecting Quad State's 4-acre proposal.

"This is an action in the best interests of the kids in that neighborhood ... They need a place to play," he said.

While residents and their children will have more area to play, developing the site will likely take longer. Recreation Director Herb Dolaway said site planning will require public input to determine what facilities residents want.

Borough attorney Thomas Finucane said the previous agreement to dedicate the 5 acres to the borough will have to be modified because of the council's decision.

"I'm pleased that they have a larger area than the original area," Karcher said after the vote. He said he was disappointed that it will take longer to develop the park.

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