Revitalization Committee starts promoting Greencastle

Businessman and borough council member Duane Kinzer, left, and Joel Fridgen, Chamber of Commerce executive director, serve on the Greencastle Revitalization Committee, which recently established Downtown Greencastle Inc. The committee and the new nonprofit organization are committed to strengthening the business district.

One committee formed as a result of a Town Hall meeting in 2009 found its footing over the past few months. The Revitalization Committee gained members, formed a non-profit corporation, received financial backing from borough council and set to work on specific goals.

H. Duane Kinzer, chairman, spearheaded the movement to create Greencastle Downtown Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to recognizing the needs of the downtown and offering assistance in meeting them. Attorney Paul Schemel donated his time to prepare the paperwork for the incorporation.

"I give council credit for its foresight in supporting our committee," said Kinzer.

On June 7 members voted unanimously to pay the $350 fee to join Pennsylvania Downtown Center, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to helping communities revitalize their main business districts and surrounding neighborhoods. On Oct. 7 council again wholeheartedly backed the committee, agreeing to take $5,000 from the Community Improvement Fund to hire a grant writer for GDI.

Kinzer said, "Ginny Lays agreed to work for us at a reduced rate. She knows where to look for grants and how to apply for them."

The committee

The Revitalization Committee consists of a cross section of officials and business people: Robert Eberly, mayor; Kenneth Womack, borough manager; Kinzer, borough council; Marissa Pinto Burt, Edward Jones; Joel Fridgen, Greencastle Chamber of Commerce; Susan Horst, Sweet Myrtle; Verna Barnhart, Willowtree Gifts and Flowers; Carissa Martin, ELM Shoes; Sharon Rupenthal, Susquehanna Bank; Samuel Tamburro, resident; Brian Hissong, downtown property owner and G-A school board; and Paul Politis, Auto Literature Shoppe and school board. The committee meets once a month.

The group has been trying to define the downtown, initially limiting it to the core radiating from Center Square. However, the boundaries may be widened. Kinzer noted that Antrim Way had a strong business core that wanted to be included, as well as other outlying entities.

"I'm delighted to have the interest," he said.

Fridgen is the contact for anyone seeking information on the downtown plans. The committee's top priority is to find more off-street parking. Next it hopes to obtain funds to help make the business community vibrant.

"We want new businesses to have a viable plan and fit a niche, to continue to draw in traffic," said Fridgen. "We want businesses that complement what we already have, to come in as more storefronts open up. They are all filled right now."

He considered the state membership an investment and a source of information as GDI sought grants.

The other active volunteer committees formed from the Town Hall meetings were Beautification, Recreation, Healthcare and Aging, and Community Development.

"We all have the same goal, to improve and generate interest in Greencastle," said Kinzer.