Chambersburg Borough Council delays decision on courthouse plans

September 26, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Chambersburg Borough Council on Monday delayed its vote on land development plans to expand the Franklin County (Pa.) Courthouse complex and make it more secure.

Councilwoman Sharon Bigler asked for an artist’s rendering of the project, prompting the matter to be tabled for a couple of weeks.

County Administrator John Hart described the courthouse plans to the council, which was asked to vote on a new sally port entrance for sheriff’s vehicles, a new entrance for a Second Street property and the removal of several parking spaces on U.S. 30.

The county commissioners plan to spend about $2 million on renovating and expanding the courthouse complex. They scrapped an earlier proposal to spend up to $56 million for a new judicial center outside the downtown core district.

Plans for the project call for the demolition of the former Harmon’s Furniture building at 28 N. Main St. and Rahauser buildings at 173 Lincoln Way East. The divorce and juvenile masters would be moved to the junior firehouse building on Second Street to open up their spaces in the existing buildings.

Hart called the project “an interim plan,” saying further changes will need to be made someday.

“Part of this plan is looking to the future, trying to get access points to the property. ... I imagine someday in the future the county will be coming to the borough with other plans for the block,” he said.

In the meantime, the county would place decorative planters in existing parking stalls on U.S. 30 to prohibit public parking. Hart said national standards call for a setback to discourage criminal activity and attacks.

“I think if someone wants to crash a truck full of explosives into the building, they’re going to do it regardless,” Bigler said.

Councilman Heath Talhelm said he supports keeping the courthouse in the center of town and prohibiting parking in front of the main buildings.

“If you think of what happened in (the) Oklahoma City (bombing), it could happen here,” he said.

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