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Main Street Gettysburg questions borough’s vision

After the Gettysburg Borough Council spent several hours on Monday evening making progress on a number of important decisions, Main Street Gettysburg President Jill Sellers used the public comment period to express disapproval of each of them, accusing the councilmembers of showing a “lack of vision.”

Sellers said Main Street Gettysburg was “the economic development arm of the borough.”

The borough announced at the meeting they planned to try a pilot program that allows people to drink alcohol outside on the Lincoln Square and within one block of it.  Sellers said the borough had existing laws which related to this issue and that the pilot project could have been borough-wide. “You’ve left out a lot of businesses that could benefit economic development by limiting that that to the square plus one block,” she said.  You have a whole list of businesses who are going to say ’what about me?”

The borough also decided to reduce the number of parklets in the borough, saying they were not used regularly and took away parking spaces. Sellers said the borough was being short-sighted. “We’re trying to create a walkable downtown. That includes public gathering spaces and you’re basically taking part of that program away. Cars are not going to be the answer forever and they shouldn’t be,” she said. Sellers said saving parking spaces was not contributing to a vision of a cleaner city.

The council spent over an hour developing appropriate guidelines for potential event venues in the borough, a change that could negatively affect residential areas. The councilmembers considered noise, lot requirements, accessory structures such as tents, dumpsters, frequency of events, outside lighting, fire codes, waste containers, parking, idling buses, setbacks, and enforcement, among others.

The borough noted the new ordinance could potentially apply to many properties in the borough and that the decisions could have wide effects.  One approach being considered is to write the ordinance so there are different regulations for neighborhoods that are more residential.

Referring to the proposed High St. project that led to the event venue discussions, Sellers said the council’s considerations about the “private property which is being micromanaged down to the foot is unnecessary when there are existing laws to answer almost every issue that has been brought up over the past 7 to 8 months.”

Sellers thanked the council for their “diligence” but wondered “in what condition we’re going to pass this borough on to the next generation.”

In other news, the borough encouraged residents to document any difficulties they may have had with the conversion from Waste Connections to Waste Management using a form available on the borough’s website.

The borough also announced that spring brush pickup will be from Monday May 23 through Thursday May 26. The public works crew will go around the town twice to pick up brush. Residents are asked to place brush along the curb or alley but not in the street. No leaves or grass clippings are allowed.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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  • The parklets decision left one municipal parklet in the quadrant near the bank, likely to be managed by the Adams County Arts Council. It will be open to the public and will be an entertainment opportunity. It is also the quadrant least likely to have noise issues, since the bank is closed most of the weekend – when most usage takes place – and there is little residential presence.
    Parklets requested and paid for by businesses would not be open to the public, just customers of that business or restaurant. The borough taxpayers would be providing additional square footage to private businesses, while losing parking spaces. Pedestrians could be walking through a dining room, cigar store, or other retail business, not having a place to sit unless they are a customer. The Council got it right on this one.

  • I am struck by the president of Main Street Gettysburg saying “Cars are not going to the answer forever and they shouldn’t be.” The reality is that cars are going to the answer for the foreseeable future in this borough. Maybe one fine day there will be mostly electric and hybrid cars but there are still going to be cars in the borough.

    As for “gathering spaces”, I didn’t hear Main Street demanding gathering spaces when the council approved the construction of a high rise on the current farmer’s market space, something that is going to forever ruin the small-town feel of Gettysburg. That space would have made a perfect gathering space with grass and benches or even a small amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events.

    Susan is right. Council made the right choice in ending the parklet program.

    • The cars prediction was indeed laughable. I agree re the development site. At the time of the height increase ordinance changes, the transit station was considered expendable so that the new building could have frontage on Carlisle. This project is coming soon to the Planning Commission. Stay tuned, and maybe go to the PC meeting to see what’s being proposed.

  • Both parklets and the open alcohol consumption are bad ideas. It is probably not wise for Ms. Sellers to insult borough council members as they control the funding for Main Street.

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