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Elm Street project sets lofty goals

March 26, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Elm Street Community Project in Chambersburg could rehabilitate as many as 50 homes in 2009 with the additional grant money it received from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Borough of Chambersburg identified the struggling west end of town as an Elm Street Community in 2007 to secure grant money from the state Department of Community and Economic Development and inject pride back in the neighborhood.

Elm Street Manager Jack Jones said the commonwealth has awarded the project another $250,000 to continue reviving the Elm Street Neighborhood in the coming year.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Paul Cullinane said Chambersburg could receive a $250,000 grant each year for the next three years, if the project continues to be a success.

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In 2008, he said Chambersburg was considered the top Elm Street Project in the state, because it followed the state program to the letter.

At a town hall meeting for the Elm Street Project Wednesday, Jones and his partners briefed residents of the area on what the project accomplished in its first year and what it hopes to accomplish in the coming months.

"We have $385,000 worth of projects left over from last year that we will start tackling this year," he said.

The Elm Street Project provides money for beautifying the neighborhood through cleanup efforts and rehabilitating homes and infrastructure that are in disrepair.

Facade Committee chairwoman Annick Kiernan said all rehab projects are done on a first-come, first-serve basis, unless an emergency is presented.

While the state requires homeowners who apply for Elm Street assistance to pay 10 percent of the project cost, Kiernan said for those unable to pay, area contractors have graciously covered the homeowner cost.

The Elm Street Project used its $250,000 grant to help more than 40 residents last year, but not all of the related projects its partners hoped to accomplish in 2008 came to pass, Cullinane said.

The Borough of Chambersburg hoped to have broken ground on a 40-unit affordable town home project off of Hollywell Avenue that secured funding because it was part of an Elm Street Community.

Cullinane said the economy has put that project on hold until the housing market improves.

Despite the economy, the program continues to grow, Kiernan said.

The Borough of Chambersburg, BOPIC Inc., Downtown Chambersburg Inc., Habitat for Humanity, the Valley Community Housing Authority, the Greater Chambersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin County Area Development Corporation will partner again on the project with 60 contractors in 2009.

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