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Transportation called Greencastle's biggest woe

February 09, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - After two hours of discussion Thursday evening among Greencastle-Antrim business people, the strongest opinion belonged to 20 red dots.

Carefully placed next to the bold red text spelling "Exit 3," "I-81 over capacity," and "lack of access to I-81 south," the dots indicated a consensus among the 25 individuals that transportation was the area's largest problem.

Consulting and planning firm RETTEW Associates Inc. hosted the discussion as a way to assess the opportunities and obstacles facing local business owners.

Project manager Frank Chlebnikow said his team of planners will use the information as it drafts the joint comprehensive plan for the Borough of Greencastle, Antrim Township and the Greencastle-Antrim School District.

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"We will look at what the public said at our meeting last week and what the business owners said tonight and if the issues match, they are clearly what we need to pay attention to," he said.

Chlebnikow said many of the issues raised Thursday evening were raised by the public as well. Among those issues were transportation, growth and water and sewer capacity.

"The issues facing Antrim Township and borough are all growth related," said Mike Ross, Franklin County Area Development Corp. president. "This township is going to explode in growth and everything relates to that growth."

Even as the business owners discussed growth and business in Greencastle, transportation remained at the forefront of the conversation.

"Parking is one of the largest issues for the downtown," Frank Ervin of Carl's Drug Store said. "If there is not a space directly in front of a store, people will not stop."

"But don't even try to come downtown between three and five in the afternoon," Gary Gembe of Graphics Universal added. "You can't call it rush hour traffic because no one is rushing anywhere."

As transportation continued to surface as the area's biggest problem, most of the business people felt growth to be both an opportunity and a potential issue.

Paul Perini of Perini Properties Corp. called area growth a "double-edged sword," saying growth could create a disparity between the pay at local jobs and the cost of living in the area.

"In Hagerstown, the average income would allow for someone to own $180,000 home, but the average home sells for $210,000. We are growing in the same way and soon people who work in the area will have to commute here."

Chlebnikow said his team will meet with the committee representing the township, borough and school district on Monday to discuss the issues raised at the two public meetings.

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