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Residents envision Greencastle's future

April 23, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Each resident of Greencastle might see the town through unique eyes, but those gathered Thursday for the borough's first town hall meeting found their visions for its future basically were the same.

The floor belonged to the residents at the Greencastle Borough Council's first meeting to draft a strategic plan aimed at developing and putting key goals into action.

Hosted by the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Councilwoman Michele Emmett said the meeting was "collaborative government" in action.

The meeting was designed to discover what was on the minds of residents, Extension educator Judy Chambers said.

Chambers said the borough council wanted to learn specifically how residents saw Greencastle today, what they wanted it to be in five years and their ideas for getting it there.

"So what is great about Greencastle today?" Chambers asked the 30 residents in the room.

Lori Facchina said she moved to the borough from a large city and fell in love with how she could walk to nearly everything in town.

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"I like that I can pretty much walk to everything, especially the things I need, which was very important to me when moving to a small town," she said.

Others favored Greencastle's charm and quaint atmosphere.

"The community atmosphere, and this meeting speaks to that, is great in Greencastle," Marissa Pinto Burt said. "People are interested and they care."

Yet, every town has challenges and faces trends that can be positive and negative, Chambers said.

Charles Myers has lived in Greencastle for more than 40 years and has seen the town change greatly. But the thing that stuck to his ribs Thursday was growth, he said.

"This town used to be convenient," he said. "Now, there are more people, so there are more demands on everything."

With most residents concerned about continually increasing traffic through town depleting its charm and adjacent commercial development threatening its currently vibrant downtown, Chambers passed around giant Post-It pads and markers, and asked the residents to put their visions for the town in ink.

"Get with your neighbors and write down what do you want to see Greencastle become," Chambers said.

Visions of a bypass for commercial traffic, a fish monger, an ice cream shop and a community center with a public pool danced in bright ink on nearly every group's list.

The final step was how to get from now to then, Chambers said, adding not all of the residents' ideas will be part of the strategic plan.

While many agreed it would take tax dollars and time to shape Greencastle's future, Emmett said the borough council will start putting in the time when it meets May 2 at 9 a.m. for its next phase of planning.

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