Local men to serve on redevelopment authority

PAT FRIDGEN
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Two men with Greencastle ties have been named to the Franklin County Redevelopment Authority, a new entity created by the Franklin County Board of Commisioners. Following up on suggestions over time by municipalities and organizations, commissioners Bob Ziobrowski, David Keller and Bob Thomas formalized the authority at their Sept. 14 meeting.

Former Antrim Township supervisor Scott Diffenderfer, and First National Bank of Mercersburg president and CEO Robert Fignar were appointed to three and two year terms, respectively. Ziobrowski agreed to serve for one year. The other staggered terms went to Gregg Thompson, director of marketing for Brechbill and Helman Construction, four years; and Pat Fleagle, director of development for Mainstreet Waynesboro Inc., five years.

Phil Tarquino, planning director for the Franklin County Planning Commission, said the redevelopment authority was a public body, granted broad powers outlined by the Urban Redevelopment Law of Pennsylvania.

"The authority is to promote the elimination of blighted areas and improve the quality of life or health, safety and welfare," he said.

That could be done as the authority performs as an agent for public entities involved in public purposes; contracts with municipalities to provide particular types of services in redevelopment areas; acquires, improves and manages property; or borrows funds.

Ready to serve

Diffenderfer and Fignar applied for the posts, anxious to put their expertise and experience to work.

Diffenderfer is general manager of Good's Tree Care in Harrisburg. In addition to 18 years as a supervisor, he served on the Antrim Township Municipal Authority for nearly a decade, and was on the Franklin County General Authority at Letterkenny for 10 years. He has a business background handling budgets, finances and human resources.

"I've always been a proponent of planning, and green infrastructure, using trees and landscape in settings," he said. "It's fun and rewarding, and my passion is to help behind the scenes."

His daily commute enabled Differderfer to learn of the pending FCRA. He heard on the radio that the authority was to be established and interested parties could apply online.

"The light bulb went off," he said. "'Yeah, that sounds like something I'd like to do'," he told himself.

On another drive he received a Google alert. The email informed him that he had been selected. The formal notification from Franklin County arrived later.

Right now he has more questions than answers as to the responsibilities and direction of the authority. He supports bringing life to needy areas. In preparation for his duties, he is reading the 107 pages in the Urban Redevelopment Law of 1945.

As a community banker, Fignar believed it was important for him to help the county in any way possible to become a better place.

"I offer any expertise I have from 25 years in the financial industry," he said. "I'm on the county Planning Commission now, and this is a logical extension."

He cited his experience dealing with small businesses and municipalities through the years. He hopes the authority will maintain Franklin County's quality of life and take advantage of local resources.

The first meeting was Tuesday, Oct. 19 in the Franklin County administrative annex, 218 N. Second St. in Chambersburg. The agenda included electing officers, setting a meeting schedule, creating bylaws and choosing a solicitor.

Robert Fignar