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Waynesboro Council divided over number of trees to plant in lot

August 21, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Not legislation, not spending, not personnel matters, but two dozen trees have been what have most divided the Waynesboro Borough Council this year.

The council reached an impasse several times at its Wednesday meeting when deciding whether to accept donated trees for the public Rotary Parking Lot behind West Main Street. Councilmen twice voted 3-3 on the number of trees to put on the lot and, with the mayor absent, had no one to break the tie.

Charles "Chip" McCammon, Ronnie Martin and Ben Greenawalt pushed for six trees, which was actually two fewer than the council had approved July 16. Craig Newcomer, Jason Stains and C. Harold Mumma were in favor of 24 trees.

"Here we have a community that's offering the trees," Newcomer said.

At issue is the redesigned Rotary Parking Lot after the area is repaved in the coming months. State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams/York, obtained $93,000 in grants to overlay the lot, restripe the spaces, improve the lighting and add a 5-foot-wide walkway around the perimeter.

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The council worked with Main Street Waynesboro Inc. and a landscape architect to explore more extensive plans, then approved "up to eight trees" in saying that the cost had escalated too much. Three weeks later, a local proponent of downtown revitalization said he had an anonymous donor willing to donate more trees to make the project greener.

Harry Morningstar, a member of Main Street Waynesboro Inc. and owner of the Furniture Market, was told to sit down with the landscaping architect, the police chief and the borough engineer. Revised plans came back with 24 trees.

The council agreed to move two trees that would have blocked the Mulberry Laundry Center, then bickered about the number to approve.

"We didn't have the money to buy the trees, but now we do," Newcomer said. "There's some hidden agenda we have that we don't want trees in here?"

"I don't have a hidden agenda," Martin said.

"I don't understand why you're being so emotional," Newcomer said.

Waynesboro Fire Chief Dave Martin asked whether the fire department could use the lot for fundraisers after paving. He said that the volunteers could eliminate the large carnival games that traditionally drive pins into the blacktop.

Ronnie Martin said that he wanted to limit the number of trees so that the fire department would have full access to the lot.

"If you're saying nobody's going to come to Waynesboro if we don't have 28 trees, I find that hard to believe," he said, to which Newcomer responded that's not what he was stating.

"I feel very strongly that we add some trees as long as I'm guaranteed it's not going to hold up this project," Mumma said.

The council ultimately compromised on 12 trees, although Newcomer talked to the council's solicitor about the options for changing the plan in the future.

When contacted after the meeting, Punt said that he would defer to the council on whatever it felt was right regarding landscaping.

"I got the grant to repave the parking lot, walkways, aesthetics, lighting. Whatever else is put in addition to that, I'm fine with," he said.

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