An executive session gave Chambersburg Borough Council a look at the Keystone Health portion of the Southgate project

September 12 – Following a borough council meeting last night, the group went into an executive session where the Keystone Health Center’s building on the Southgate property was discussed. 

The facility will be installed where the old Gold’s Gym used to be. 

The design looks like it will need more parking. 

Allen Coffman, borough council president, said, “Their request last night, I’ve got to tell you, was a shock to all of us, the request for more area for parking. From what I can see there, their drawings are done. I’d say they’re 100 percent done at least for the layout of the building and the outside of it. So that took me by surprise anyway. By all numbers that we work with at the borough, they’ve got plenty of parking. There shouldn’t be any problem at all. However they think they need I think it was something like 45 more places and maybe another half acre to do it, but it seems an odd time now to be coming back and talking about that when we’re all but ready to approve their final drawing. So I don’t know. It’ll be debated, but it certainly wasn’t going to be decided last night at the council meeting on the drop of a hat like that.”

What could the thinking behind the request be? 

Coffman said, “I wish I knew because nobody knew that was coming last night. No one. So I don’t know. We’ll find out more as we start to delve into this and why? That’s the question, why?”

What would be the cost of that? 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “If they’re willing to pay for it, does that help the borough actually?”

Coffman said, “Well, that’s an interesting point because as this thing went out, I believe the minimum acreage that was to be sold, was in like an increment of two acres. Now they’re looking at half an acre, so where does that get taken from? How should that be spread out? I don’t know the answer to that and the other thing is CAMA, the Chambersburg Area Municipal Authority, the people that are on that, Tom Newcomer sits on that, they had no idea about that either. So everybody on this side of the fence, so to speak, knew nothing about it, but they were ready to talk about last night. It will get worked out, it’s just a surprise. That’s all.”

Ryan suggested, “Well, if they’re looking for another half-acre, I mean, you overpaid for the property. Why don’t you just put a bigger price tag on the half an acre and call it a day. Make some money back on it.”

The appointment of a probationary firefighter was also on the agenda last night, but it didn’t happen. 

Coffman explained, “You can’t pull it off the agenda. You have to take action on it. So our action was to table. Long story short, I would not expect to see that come back again. For reasons that are let’s say personnel driven in this case. I don’t think he made the final cut and we didn’t find out until very late yesterday. I think we’ll be searching for a firefighter again.” 

There was a public hearing for the Luminest project, which will rehabilitate some buildings in town through a grant. 

Coffman said, “I thought there’d be some people who would stand up and say they were truly in support of that project. It’s money coming here and it’s improving housing. Why would somebody not be in favor of that? So one person sort of spoke in favor of it. One person stood up to ask a question about it, but after the question was answered, I never got a positive or a negative from that individual. So it was, to me, a very unusual public hearing to try to determine where the public was at with this Luminest development project, totaling about $2 million. It just surprised me a little bit.”

Ryan said, “I’ve got to disagree with you on that. It looks like here’s a grant. Here’s a couple buildings that are going to get some nicer treatment. We’re going to help out some people here. I didn’t see it as a lot of back and forth on that. It looks like it makes sense. I’m not a big fan of throwing $90,000 added to administer the grant, but there was a decent enough argument for that over the life of the grant, years and years and years. Even though I just kind of sat back and okay, it’s on autopilot.”

There were budget presentations from the electric department, the water department, the sewer department and the gas department.

Coffman said, “I guess the takeaways there would be the electric department’s doing good. We’ll get this rate adjustment figured out over the next probably two months. The Water Department looks like they’ll probably take a %.03 increase in their rates, which would take the average bill up about $2.10 a month. The gas department’s doing well and it doesn’t look like there’ll be any change whatsoever in the gas rates, which is really good for energy thoughts for this fall and this winter.” 

The next meeting for borough council will be next Monday night.