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Pa. complex could cost $10.1 million

June 28, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - A municipal government complex to serve the needs of Washington Township, Pa., for five to 10 years could cost $6.6 million to $10.1 million, an architect told township supervisors Wednesday.

Some agencies in the plan, including the magisterial district judge and senior center, could cover their own costs, Jennifer Greenlee of Newcomer Associates of Chambersburg, Pa., said.

Greenlee shared cost estimates and two site plans, one on the existing South Welty Road parcel and one on a generic 10-acre plot. Her estimates did not include the cost of land acquisition if a new site is used.

Greenlee's presentation was followed by questions and remarks by some of the 20 residents at the meeting. They, for the first time in more than a year, were capped at three minutes when addressing the supervisors in the wake of recent meetings with heated, lengthy exchanges.

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"I think to do what's fair to the people, I'd finish one major project first before we launch into this," said Kerry Bonner of Meadowview Avenue in Waynesboro. "This is going to be hard on the people."

"The older people who lived in this township most of their life, a lot of them are going to have a hard time paying all these taxes," he said. "There's no way you can do all these projects and not raise taxes."

Although the architect and township officials said agency wishes for the future were accurately represented in the plan, several residents questioned why the senior center would be there and a substation of the Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue Squad from Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., would be created.

If the fire company cannot find volunteers now, what makes it think that it can staff a substation, asked Bob Peiffer, a member of the Washington Township Planning Commission.

"The moving or relocation of a portion of the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Co. is going to cost us up to, on this document, over a million (dollars). ... I'll say one thing. If you attempt to move the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Co. from Blue Ridge Summit to make it a Rouzerville (Pa.) fire company, you're going to have people coming off Blue Ridge Summit faster than Lee did after Gettysburg," said Dick Moebius of Stahley Road in Blue Ridge Summit. "Are my three minutes up yet, sir?"

The supervisors said they don't know what construction of a municipal complex would mean to the tax rate, which stands at 4.4 mills of property taxes in the township. A mill is equivalent to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

"You have to remember we're taxpayers as well," Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf said.

Supervisor Carroll Sturm said "(we) wouldn't be able to turn the first spade for at least three years" if the project proceeds.

"We're not beyond just planning at this point," Sturm said. "We're not building anything. We're just discussing what it would take if we did decide to build."

The supervisors will receive the final report from Newcomer Associates, then hold a public workshop to decide what to do, Sturm said.

For the existing site, Greenlee proposed building a maintenance garage, salt storage shed and administrative offices outside the flood plain, which consumes 35 percent of the four-acre site. Construction there would cost $5.1 million to $7.1 million, with about $2.5 million to build space elsewhere for the district judge, municipal authority, senior/community center and fire company substation.

"None of the remote agencies fit on this property," Greenlee said.

"I don't think it's going to be feasible to use the existing site because everyone's talking about using second stories, and I don't think these buildings will support second stories," McCleaf said. He also has shared concerns about the instability of grounds around the flood plain.

Greenlee's cost estimates were based on similar projects.

"It's a conceptual range of costs," she said. "We have no construction type yet, no foundation type yet, no building design type yet."

Greenlee included two additional phases of construction to address what she called 10- to 20-year needs.

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