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Human Services Council proposes building on Rotary Parking Lot

August 04, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Waynesboro Area Human Services Council would build a 3,600- to 4,000-square-foot building on Rotary Parking Lot under a proposal presented to the Waynesboro Borough Council on Wednesday.

Waynesboro Area Human Services Council would enter into a low-cost lease with the borough council for land in the borough-owned lot, officials said. They said the larger building would allow for expanded services such as more bedding and car seats, while also allowing the human services agency to leave the building it rents on East Main Street.

That building, which is in disrepair, is in receivership from a bank, according to Jack Scott, treasurer for Waynesboro Area Human Services Council.

Councilman Ronnie Martin developed the idea with the nonprofit human services organization. He said the new building would eliminate approximately 14 parking spaces in the southeast corner of the lot, behind a residential property on Second Street. Scott said the building would face Mulberry Avenue.

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The borough council members had many questions about the proposal.

Martin acknowledged big issues remain, including determining whether a grant used to rehabilitate Rotary Parking Lot allows for new construction there. Other considerations are whether the Rotary Club of Waynesboro would support the plan on the lot it donated, and any building must be designed with consideration to costs.

The Waynesboro Area Human Services Council could not afford loan and utility payments much greater than its current monthly rent, Scott said.

The building would essentially be a warehouse, with some areas designated for offices and a food bank, he said.

In 2009, the agency provided financial assistance for things like rent and power bills for 443 clients, with 1,281 people total in those households, Scott said. Another 600 people, with 1,600 people in those households, used the food bank, he said.

"We're never not busy. ... We do prevent a lot of homelessness in the area," said Jane Birt, director for the Waynesboro Area Human Services Council.

Financial support comes from grants and community contributions, she said.

The borough would continue to own the ground and would take over ownership of the building if the human services organization closes or moves, Martin said.

Patrick Fleagle is the economic development director for downtown revitalization organization Main Street Waynesboro Inc. He said he supports the human services council's desire to stay in the town core and acknowledges space and cost requirements prohibit the organization from taking advantage of many vacant building.

Also, the human services council probably isn't the best use for a Main Street retail facility, Fleagle said. Still, he said he'd "jump at" any proposal to help the human services council reuse a building.

"I don't know where that is right now," Fleagle said.

Councilman C. Harold Mumma said neighboring property owners need to be contacted for input. The councilmen also asked about how many parking spaces would be used regularly by the organization.

"The majority of our clients do walk," Birt said. "They don't have transportation."

The parking lot is underutilized on weekdays anyway, Councilman Wayne Driscoll said.

Much of the decision will come down to finances, including what construction services might be donated, Scott said. The monthly loan amount will be a key part of decisions, he said.

"Quite frankly, I don't know if we can come in under that number," Scott said.

Councilman Jason Stains suggested he and other council members visit the site and look at sketches that Waynesboro Area Human Services Council will have prepared.

"It sounds like a good start. I think there are a lot of questions out there," Stains said.

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