Moving Courthouse Would Cripple Downtown, Pa County Says

Chambersburg officials, downtown merchants agree: Moving Franklin County Courthouse from Memorial Square would cripple downtown

By ROB LUFF Staff writer

Chambersburg Borough Council members and merchants agree that moving the Franklin County Courthouse from Memorial Square would be a detriment to the downtown business district.   County Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski attended the meeting to get council’s perspective on moving the courthouse from its current location at North Main Street and Lincoln Way East.

Council members and business owners told him that if the courthouse were to move even just a few blocks to a proposed site at North Second and Grant streets, downtown businesses would be critically wounded.  The relocation would cripple foot traffic, they all said in accord.  Every business day, courthouse employees and visitors to the building wander downtown to grab a meal in the restaurants and to do a bit of lunch-hour shopping, they said. Jury duty days bring even more customers.

Even just a few blocks away, those people are more likely to hop in their cars than walk downtown, council members said, so they would be more likely to travel out of the borough to a restaurant in a shopping center.  “… I think taking the court system from the downtown hastens the hollowing (of that area),” council President Bill McLaughlin said.

Mark Miller, owner of Gypsie, an eclectic gift shop at 21 N. Main St., said he wonders how his fellow merchants will get customers in their shops and restaurants without the foot traffic that a courthouse naturally generates.

He later referenced a December 2008 article in the Rising Sun (Md.) Herald  that said businesses in the town of Elkton, Md., saw a significant reduction in customers almost immediately after its courthouse moved a few blocks away.

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