Shippensburg borough to submit abandoned bowling alley to blighted property committee
By AMBER SOUTH
Shippensburg borough will submit the former bowling alley on Park Place to the Franklin County Blighted Property Committee this week.
Borough Manager Earl Parshall said in an e-mail Tuesday there is one part of the required application, which includes questions over conditions relating to a property’s blighted nature and what has been done in the past to correct such problems, among other things, that he needs to complete. He plans to send the application and the $250 required fee to the Franklin County Planning Department, which the committee is part of, by this week.
Acting on notice from Franklin County that the committee had been formed, Shippensburg Borough Council voted last week to submit the property to the committee.
“I think this is probably a goodness coming our way,” Parshall said at that meeting.
It has been noted that the property owner, Jimbo’s Bowling Group Inc., abandoned it some time ago. The owner stopped paying taxes and maintaining the property around 2007, Parshall said Tuesday.
There are municipal liens and “significant” tax liens on the property, Solicitor Sam Wiser said at last week’s meeting.
“(Shippensburg borough) and the (Franklin) county are the ones that are out (money) because the taxes have not been paid,” Parshall said last week.
The question of what to do with the debilitated former home of Park Lanes has hung over council for some time.
At the Nov. 20 meeting, Randy Taylor of the park and recreation committee said the group had recently discussed options for rehabilitating the property, but that it wished to involve the community in developing ideas.
In one response, Mayor Bruce Hockersmith said the building has many structural issues and its height could hinder what activities could happen there.
Shippensburg resident Forest Myers spoke at the Oct. 2 meeting, requesting that council look into taking control of the building.
“It’s just a nightmare of a mess and certainly doesn’t speak well with the community,” he said.
Parshall said it will most likely take about six months for the committee to return its decision to the borough.
“We could very well be their test case and set the precedence for them,” he said.
According to a Public Opinion article about the Franklin County Blighted Property Committee printed Sept. 25, there are several steps to designate a property as blighted, defined under Pennsylvania’s Urban Development Law as a structure that is a fire hazard, a public nuisance because of housing or building code violations, an attractive nuisance to children, unfit for its intended use, has become a trash dump, or is two years behind in taxes.
The planning department first examines the property then notifies the owner of what actions to take to correct the problems. The owner has six months to comply and submit at least $1,000 and a rehabilitation plan.
Should the owner fail to correct the issues, the committee can declare the property blighted. The owner may then request a hearing with the committee.
Franklin County Redevelopment Authority can condemn a property, and then work to redevelop it, only after it is declared blighted.
The borough has expressed interest in possibly acquiring the Park Place property, which stands near Shippensburg’s middle and high schools and Memorial Park, for use as a community activities center.
According to deed transfer records, Jimbo’s Bowling Group obtained the property in 2004.
What would you like to happen with the old bowling alley?
Kristi Eckert: Would love to see it tied to the park system and turned into a community center! After school programs, room for indoor party facilities, senior center, community space-all which could greatly benefit the community!!!!!
Victoria Diehl: It would be nice to see a bowling alley again; however, as long as it was geared towards kids especially during winter months like a roller skating rink.
Danielle Mathers Reed: The kids in this town need a place to go out and hang out with friends in a safe environment. Would love to see band nights and entertainment for them to enjoy.
Leslie Moore Raymond: movie theater!!!
Galen Martin: Something like a coffee shop that has sandwiches,bagels,soups. And a lounge for the kids to hang out in after school. Cause they dont have ANYWHERE to go to be kids!!!
Better yet! Have a questionnaire handed out at school and ask the kids!!! That way they have a say!!!
Susan Shuman Ford: I think they should keep half the bowling lanes and make a dance floor with a dj on weekends. Maybe some pool tables and a coffee bar?
Amber South can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4771.