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Study to guide Castle Shannon

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Castle Shannon will use a $14,500 state planning grant to look at possible improvements to the business district and other parts of the borough.

Borough Manager Tom Hartswick said the money from the Department of Community and Economic Development will go toward a feasibility study, to determine the success of the Castle Shannon Revitalization Corp.'s operations, and evaluate community service needs.

The results will be presented at a community meeting. He hopes the study is completed by the end of July.

“The results will provide direction for continued movement toward the borough's designation as a Main Street or Keystone Community,” Hartswick said. “Obtaining a Keystone Community Designation will put us in a better position to receive further help from the state.”

Mike Warhold, president of the revitalization corporation, said some of the benefits of a Keystone Community designation are development of a matching funds program for facade improvements for business owners, and increased coordination between the borough and business community. Areas with the designation also can explore tax increment financing, transit oriented developments and other programs.

Heidi Havens, DCED spokeswoman, said the study's purpose is “to evaluate the Castle Shannon business district's competitive position, and test the market potential for attracting new businesses and retaining current establishments.”

Castle Shannon and the revitalization corporation are working to develop a walking trail and the Castle Shannon Heroes Project.

“Delta Development did a study of the downtown area a few years ago and found several green spaces that can be turned into a walking trail,” Hartswick said. “Also, if you walk or drive down Route 88, you will see banners honoring individuals who served in the Armed Forces. Bethel Park and South Park did this and we would like to continue it in our community.”

The community is working to paint a mural over a plain wall on Willow Avenue, near the light rail transit stop. It also is proposing a fundraiser to restore a monument erected just after World War II.

“The study will tell us if things we are doing currently are successful, or if we need to incorporate things to make them a success,” Hartswick said.

Chasity Capasso is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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