Chambersburg, while a very different place than it once was, is not as downtrodden and dysfunctional as some who lament the decline of the area’s Italian populace would have you think.
In fact, if the city actually promoted the heavily Hispanic neighborhood in the same manner as it promoted the area during its Italian heyday, the area could attract people from outside the city in a similar manner to how it once did.
There are numerous Hispanic eateries in the neighborhood – easily outnumbering the Italian ones – yet the city refuses to repaint signs that point the way to now-defunct Italian eateries with the names of thriving Hispanic eateries.
Also, the lighting in the neighborhood has deteriorated significantly, with many streets suffering from extremely dark conditions during the evening and nighttime hours when potential restaurants patrons from the suburbs could be trolling the street, looking for a bite to eat.
Upgrading the streetlights in many areas, say to the level of lighting on stretches of Roebling Avenue, might make the neighborhood more attractive to both restaurants patrons and residents. Conversely, better lighting would make Chambersburg less attractive to the criminals who are apt to pray on the immigrants who now live in the area.
Officials have made little effort to reach out to owners of many of the eateries to make their establishments attractive to both indigenous Hispanic city dwellers and suburbanites sick of eating at On The Border or Chevy’s.
The city could organize a restaurant week or some other type of event that could jumpstart economic activity and improve the neighborhood’s image in the minds of suburban residents, who might recall eating at the area’s fabled Italian eateries.
The city seems to have bought into the mantra that says the death of the Italian majority in Chambersburg means the death of the neighborhood itself, when all it means is Trenton once again has a neighborhood in ethnic flux.