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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 edition of the Press & Journal

Posted 12/18/19

Train station headed to W. Main

The new Middletown train station will be built on West Main Street at the site of the former A.P. Green warehouse, the state Department of Transportation announced …

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From the Vault: News from the Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 edition of the Press & Journal


Train station headed to W. Main

The new Middletown train station will be built on West Main Street at the site of the former A.P. Green warehouse, the state Department of Transportation announced on Monday, Dec. 6.
By the end of 2013, you should be boarding and stepping off Amtrak trains at two new platforms on each side of the tracks at West Main and Ann streets, said Toby Fauver, deputy director of local and area transportation for PennDOT.
A bridge will cross over the tracks to connect the platforms. Vending machines will sell tickets to travelers, possibly at a convenience store next to the station that could be built by developer Jim Nardo, who owns the site.
Nardo and PennDOT have reached a sales agreement that will transfer a portion of the property for $2.3 million. The state had budgeted $32 million in state and federal money for the project, though the actual cost may be less, said Fauver.
Don’t expect a large station, like the old relics built in the heyday of railroads. The new station will not be much of a building, if at all. It will be platforms served by elevators, perhaps with a small shop serving travelers, said Fauver.
No design has been drawn. PennDOT has hired a designer, but intends to hold a public meeting in early 2011 to solicit ideas from the public on how it should look.
Local officials hailed the new station as a catalyst for development and an improved economy in Middletown. The state chose the West Main Street site over another location along Route 230 in Lower Swatara Township near Harrisburg International Airport, moving Borough Council President Diana McGlone to hoot like a train whistle in celebration.
“I just want to say two words – ‘Wooo! Woooooo!’ ” said McGlone, during an announcement of the project held at council’s chambers. “We’re looking forward to the transformation of the town.’’
A new station is needed because the current one, a short platform at South Union and Mill streets, is not accessible by the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
It’s been rumored for months that PennDOT would build a new station at the A.P. Green site, but an announcement had been delayed while PennDOT negotiated track rights with two neighboring freight railroads, Norfolk Southern and the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, which have nearby tracks, said Fauver.
The station will be located at a strip mall that Nardo, its owner, plans to renovate. The expanded mall, which he calls Westporte Centre, will feature a supermarket and restaurants, and retain current tenants, including the post office. Nardo has demolished most of the A.P. Green warehouse that sat on a large swath of land he purchased, and the remainder of the warehouse will be torn down after A.P. Green abandons what’s left of the building in July.

Ben Olsen ‘jumping into the fire’: Former MAHS soccer standout ready to lead MLS’s D.C. United

Fifteen years ago, a broken wrist ended Ben Olsen’s high school soccer career at Middletown Area High School in his senior year.
He watched his teammates finish the last half of their final season from the sidelines.
Injuries would hit Olsen again in 2002. On his way to becoming one of the most successful players in Major League Soccer history, he suffered a gruesome ankle injury while playing as a transfer for Nottingham Forest of England.
It would have ended the career of most players. But not Ben Olsen.
The 1995 Middletown graduate battled back to play again in 2002 and in 2004. He won his second MLS Cup with D.C. United, where he started and finished the game in a 3-2 win.
Olsen played five seasons after that year, but the injury bug that nagged him since his final year of high school caught him again after the 2007 season in which he scored his first ever hat-trick in a 7-goal, 7-assist campaign, regarded as his best professional season.
“When you go through injuries it’s never easy, and when you go through long injuries like I went through, you get a different perspective on the game,” Olsen said in a telephone interview.
“It was hard to watch the games and sit out twice, but I grew as a soccer player, not physically, but mentally,” he said. “I was a smarter soccer player. I had a higher soccer IQ.”
Olsen played just one match in the 2008 season, and after an injury-plagued 2009 season, he announced his retirement Oct. 20, 2009. Now, a new chapter in Olsen’s career is beginning.
After a 13-year career with one MLS team — D.C. United — Olsen, who was named interim head coach in August, had the interim dropped from his title. He was named the head coach Nov. 29.

Eagle Heights residents say development will destroy character of neighborhood

Sonja Miller’s quiet neighborhood on a hill overlooking West Main Street could soon be home to hundreds of college students in clusters of proposed apartments, and she’s not happy about it.
Traffic. Rowdiness. She is braced for the worst if two developers do indeed build student housing in the Eagle Heights neighborhood of Lower Swatara Township for students at nearby Penn State Harrisburg. “Our nice hill is going to be going down the tubes,’’ she laments.
Miller and her longtime neighbors fear students will be a plague on their neighborhood if developers succeed in amending township zoning ordinances to allow student housing on several properties along West Main Street.
Township commissioners heard their pleas to reject an amendment, proposed by one developer, to allow student housing in commercial neighborhood districts within 1,000 feet of a college, like Eagle Heights, paving the way for apartments that would house hundreds of students in Miller’s Lawrence Street neighborhood.
The developer, KGH Properties, wants to build 11 apartment buildings for 264 students on three properties it has under sales agreements – an insurance office on West Main Street and two neighboring Victorian-style mansions at the western entrance to Middletown. The development would be called Campus Heights.

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