From Parking to Pansies?

Downtown Hershey
By Robert Naeye

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the amount of area that will be turned into green space.

Change will soon be coming to the land east of the Hershey Theatre, a 4.3 acre area that is now mostly covered by a parking lot.

By a vote of 5-0, the Derry Township Board of Supervisors tentatively approved a plan from The Hershey Company to combine all the properties bounded by East Chocolate Avenue to the north, Homestead Road to the east, East Caracas Avenue to the south, and Ceylon Avenue to the west. The properties are next to the Tender Years Day Care Center.

Final approval will depend on The Hershey Company meeting certain conditions, such as reimbursing the township for any costs in reviewing the plan.

In the short term, The Hershey Company will offer the five buildings on this land to the Hershey Fire Department for training. Four of those buildings will eventually be torn down, with only the block garage remaining for storage and maintenance.

And in the long term, the area covered by those buildings -- approximately one-half acre -- will be turned into green space, with trees and a community garden.

“We will try to beautify the area,” Tim Leh of The Hershey Company said.

Derry Township director of community development Chuck Emerick recommended that the township grant a deferment to The Hershey Company so it doesn’t have to provide sidewalks, walkways, and bicycle paths on Homestead Road. But Emerick went on to say that as time goes on, the intersection of Chocolate Avenue and Homestead might undergo a “metamorphosis” that will enable the community to put pedestrian paths in that area to provide a cohesive link to the rest of the town.

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