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Grant funds to fix up sidewalks, borough park in Chambersburg

April 11, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council this week voted to spend most of its shrinking 2007 Community Development Block Grants funds on public facilities and improvements, setting aside $185,610 for curbs, sidewalks and Mike Waters Park.

A review committee recommended spending $77,000 on curb ramps in the Fourth Ward this year, part of an ongoing program to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last year, grant money was used for ramps in the Fifth Ward.

Another $58,610 was allocated for a grant program to help low- and moderate-income homeowners repair or install curbs and sidewalks. The council approved $50,000 for renovations to the Mike Waters Park on South Second Street, the second year of funding to match a $150,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

PIRHL Developers received $30,000 for a planned 40-unit town house development for low- and moderate-income residents on Buchanan Street. The money would be used as matching funds for other grants.

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The remaining $47,000, or 18 percent of the total, will be retained by the borough to administer the grants, said Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's director of planning.

Councilwoman Elaine Swartz asked whether some of the borough's requests could be trimmed to fund public services requests.

"We do have to maintain some recognition of what the public service programs offer the community," she said.

"Every year, we're threatened it's going to be discontinued or cut," Councilwoman Ruth Harbaugh said of CDBG funds. If that happens, the borough will have to pay the bill for required improvements, such as curb ramps.

The pot of grant money has gotten smaller in recent years as a result of federal budget cuts. In 2003, the borough got $324,060 in CDBG funds, compared to $262,610 for 2007, according to borough figures.

Requests left out this year were $15,000 from Downtown Chambersburg Inc. for improvements at Capitol Theatre; $21,939 for Pregnancy Ministries Inc. to replace its roof; $5,000 for a Youth Achievers Program at the YMCA; and $14,000 for Habitat for Humanity to buy two building lots on Candlestick Court.

The YMCA program, which offers college preparatory and leadership training for low- and moderate-income students, was approved for $4,994.95 left over from 2003 CDBG funding.

A $20,166 request from Franklin County Legal Services to continue funding a paralegal position for its Hispanic outreach program was ineligible, having already been funded three previous years, Wolgemuth said.

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