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Opinion: Long-standing partners will consider best interest of community

The article below was submitted to The Danville News and the Press Enterprise as an op-ed by Columbia Montour Chamber President Fred Gaffney, following the January 25 zoning hearing in the Danville Borough.

I attended Danville Council’s public hearing on January 25th to provide The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ comments in support of a change of zoning on a parcel of land to allow for the development of a behavioral health hospital. Several others who provided public comments expressed concern for the well-being of the current property owners, the Sisters of Saints Cyril & Methodius. Those concerns demonstrate the appreciation for the Sisters and their property. Consider all that they have developed and maintained on those properties over many years: the Basilica, Maria Hall, Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, and the Pre-K and Kindergarten programs. Clearly, the Sisters are much more than caring ladies in service, but also smart, successful businesswomen who have contributed significantly to the health and economic vitality of the area.

Now, the Sisters have recognized that maintaining the aging structures on this one parcel are not financially viable for them. They are attempting to work with Geisinger, a long-standing partner in providing care, to maintain as many of these structures as possible, while addressing an urgent need for behavioral care in our area. Based upon comments by Sisters Barbara Sable and Michael Ann Orlik at the hearing, I am confident that these two long-standing Danville entities will do what is in the best interests of the community and its residents if this project is allowed to move forward.


Fred Gaffney
The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce