COG speakers give project updates

PAT FRIDGEN

Antrim Township is a key player in the Franklin County Area Development Corporation's finances, and president Mike Ross is banking on success in the near future. He told the Franklin County Council of Governments March 17 that Antrim's location and water supply makes it a prime spot for commercial development.

Therefore, though Antrim had no committed developer in the wings, usually a prerequisite for an Infrastructure Development Grant, FCADC went out on a limb and backed the $1.25 million grant so the Antrim Township Municipal Authority could upgrade its water treatment plant.

"We took on the burden," said Ross. "This should be a catalyst for ATMA to sell the water system to the Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority. We'll repay the loan if no one comes in. We get anxiety attacks about this, but we believe it will happen."

Such action is but one of FCADC's projects for the county at large. Ross updated COG members on his organization's plans for 2010.

FCADC operates on a $1 million annual budget, of which $80,000 comes from the county. The rest is generated by developers. Ross noted his staff includes only three other people. "We don't take on anyone we can't afford."

He is assisted by David Mackley, business outreach specialist; Judy Evans, operations manager; and Rhonda Wojciechowski, special projects coordinator.

The headquarters is undergoing a 2,566 square-foot renovation at 1900 Wayne Road, Chambersburg, and also adding 2,240 square feet of office space.

Ross wants his Web site to contain enough information so any potential business could understand if Franklin County was right for them. He told the assembled COG members, representing every municipality in the county, that they all share the same ideals though may have differences of opinion, and everything FCADC did was a collaborative effort with them.

Phil Tarquino, Franklin County Director of Planning, and Noll Wilt, Director of Information Technology, explained the county's plans to expand its geographic information system. The few agencies with computerized data were not sharing with each other. The GIS plan would consolidate information on one software system and be available online, hopefully at the end of the year. Wilt asked the COG members to let him know what they would like to see included, and also what they already had compiled and could share with the county as a whole.

Present and potential information to be available include county stormwater management, comprehensive and transportation plans; maps, including roads and flood plains; agricultural preservation sites; voter districts and parcel data of properties.

Tarquino said the project was costly. Whether the information would be offered on a subscription basis or free had not been determined.

County commissioner Bob Thomas announced that the Rural Planning Organization was "up and running." The committee was defining how it would operate and work closely with the municipalities. The county received federal stimulus funds, which allowed three additional projects to be undertaken.