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Shelter signs deal with CSX for new facility funds

July 26, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Concerned over the impact that a nearby intermodal terminal would have on its stray dogs and cats, the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter can begin looking for a new home after signing an agreement Wednesday with CSX Transportation that will pay the shelter $600,000 toward a new facility.

The agreement calls for the railroad to pay the shelter $300,000 for relocation and construction of a new building, and a second payment of $300,000 once the shelter is moved. CSX also will close Country Road at the shelter, and build a cul-de-sac for traffic to turn around safely.

The Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Chambersburg Area Development Corp. (CADC) helped broker the deal, negotiations for which had reached an impasse earlier this year, Chamber President David Sciamanna said.

"We do not have a site identified at this time" for the new shelter, but donated land of at least five acres would be welcomed, Sciamanna said. The cost of a new shelter also is not known, but Sciamanna said it will exceed $1 million.

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"It will be an ultimate purchase ... if a new facility materializes," said Chris Cullen, director of Transportation Services for the Real Property Division of CSX. If the shelter does not relocate within three years, Cullen said the agreement still calls for Country Road to be closed before reaching the railroad tracks and the cul-de-sac to be built at the entrance to the shelter.

The $46 million intermodal terminal will occupy about 75 acres of an approximately 160-acre tract across the railroad tracks from the shelter, Cullen said. The first trains are expected to roll in this September, he said.

The terminal will handle two trains and about 300 truck trips per day when it is fully operational, and could be expanded in the future, Cullen said. Trucks will load and off-load containers from the trains daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., he said.

"Our goal is to complete the project in less than three years," Sciamanna said of moving the shelter.

"Our concern was we could not relocate for $600,000," said Nancy Gardner, president of the shelter's board of directors. "Now, we have CADC and the Chamber and leading citizens of the community behind the effort."

"It feels good to know we have that kind of support," said Alan Loessy, vice president of the shelter's board of directors.

Gardner said the shelter will begin a building fund, separate from its fundraising for day-to-day operations.

CADC board member Ken Plummer said he would help get the project rolling by providing some architectural services, including a floor plan and artist's rendering for a new animal shelter.

Sciamanna said Plummer helped break the impasse earlier this month and that U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., had "had some very important communications with CSX during the process."

The shelter has space for about 40 dogs and 70 cats, but Gardner said it often is overcrowded.

"We are delighted the animal shelter has a path towards the new facility it envisions," said Cullen, a volunteer for Boston Terrier Rescue of Florida.

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