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Walnut Bottom Road, South Middleton Township.

South Middleton Township is on its way to developing a master plan for the Walnut Bottom corridor in the municipality’s northwest quadrant.

Township manager Cory Adams announced at a township supervisors meeting on Thursday night that South Middleton has been awarded a Municipal Assistance Program grant for $17,500 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Officials intend to use the grant for a master plan of the Walnut Bottom corridor relating to a township comprehensive plan update in the works.

South Middletown Township supervisors unanimously agreed Thursday to pursue a contract for conducting the study with Michael Baker International. The Pittsburgh-based engineering firm assisted South Middleton officials in applying for the DCED grant.

The township is seeking a study of the Walnut Bottom Corridor “for guidance for future land use, marketing and infrastructure improvements,” Adams said.

In a study proposal to the township earlier this year, the Michael Baker firm said, “The Walnut Bottom corridor has long served as a primary transportation connector to downtown Carlisle and its connection with I-81 at Exit 45 (College Street), and its proximity to Exit 44 (Allen Road) has directly contributed to the corridor’s historic growth and development, which includes various types and densities of industrial, commercial and residential uses.”

Supervisor Tom Faley said on Thursday, “The Walnut Bottom sector is a mystery in some aspects. There are some places that haven’t been developed yet. I’ve been surprised at how slow the real estate’s been moving there, except for medical purposes.”

The corridor recently was hit by the closure of a 117,000-square-foot Kmart department store at Walnut Bottom Towne Center. Much of the area also lacks sidewalks for pedestrian and bicycle accessibility and connectivity with other neighboring commercial and residential uses, including Carlisle’s historic central business district, the Michael Baker report said

Although the study is estimated to cost around $70,000, the $17,500 DCED grant was awarded to the township on a 50/50 matching basis, meaning that the township is required to contribute an additional $17,500 toward the project for a total of $35,000. Further study funding is “pending” from Cumberland County, Adams said on Thursday. Officials said they expect that about 80 percent of total funding for the study will come from “outside sources.”

Adams said once a contract is finalized with the Baker firm, the study is expected to take about seven months to complete.

Swisher property

Also on Thursday, South Middleton supervisors agreed to purchase a 4.7451-acre property from Jay Swisher and Diane Swisher for $450,000. The property is on Park Drive and adjoins recreational land already owned by the township. Officials said they also plan to use the Swisher property for recreational purposes.

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