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Armory's future use in question

July 15, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. -- The Pennsylvania National Guard armory in Waynesboro might not become the site of a regional police force as previously discussed.

The renovations and needed asbestos removal, coupled with the $600,000 purchase price, make the project cost-prohibitive, Waynesboro Borough Council members said Wednesday. They had talked about relocating a joint Waynesboro and Washington Township, Pa., police department there.

Yet, the Waynesboro Volunteer Fire Department remains in the running to become a future tenant of the 73-year-old building on Pa. 316.

The armory, also referred to as a readiness center, is slated to be cleaned and sold when the Waynesboro unit moves to a new $5.5 million facility in South Mountain, Pa. It will join the Gettysburg, Pa., unit there.

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The move is expected to happen in early 2010.

Borough officials had hoped the old 16,000-square-foot building would transfer to municipal ownership for little or no cost. However, they've confirmed local governments would have first choice, but they would be required to pay a fair market value.

"The building is on the National Historic Register," Councilman C. Harold Mumma said, saying the facade cannot be changed. He also mentioned asbestos inside.

"I'd love to have the grounds, but there's too much bad to go with it," he said.

Councilman Ronnie Martin said he would like the fire department to consider moving into the building, noting the department might be able to resurrect its fundraising carnival there as well. Fire Chief Dave Martin said the department would like to explore the possibilities.

Ronnie Martin questioned whether the borough legally could buy the building at the appraisal price and resell it.

All of the readiness centers in Franklin County, Pa., serve the Pennsylvania National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which has a total of about 4,000 members. One hundred are stationed in Chambersburg, Pa., and about 115 are in Waynesboro and Gettysburg.

The 56th Stryker Brigade, which specializes in operations that use armored vehicles, deployed to Iraq early this year and is expected home in the fall, a Department of Military and Veterans Affairs spokesman said in an April interview.

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