The president of Penn Square Partners wrote to Commissioners Dick Shellenberger and Molly Henderson on June 10 to implore them to stop any further attempts to thwart the $129 million downtown convention center/hotel project.

“It is not too late for you to support this project,” Cooley wrote. “Please join us in a spirit of good faith, cooperation and community leadership.”

Shellenberger and Henderson have said they want to put the brakes on the seven-year-old downtown revitalization project. The third commissioner, Pete Shaub, supports the project.

Shellenberger and Henderson for several months have engaged in a public debate with developers, primarily about financing and the size of the project.

Shellenberger today gave a somewhat cryptic response when asked about Cooley’s letter.

“I’m always looking for common ground. If there isn’t any, then I guess we’ll move on,” he said.

When asked to clarify, he said no decision has been made on how the commissioners will proceed.

“We have to decide what to do next,” he added.

Two weeks ago, Shellenberger released a series of proposals to alter the project’s financial structure.

The Lancaster County Convention Center Authority and Penn Square Partners, the hotel developer, dismissed most of the proposals as just another attempt by Shellenberger to kill the project.

The June 10 letter is a response to Shellenberger’s proposals.

Cooley said the project developers doubt that Shellenberger’s proposals are an attempt to find common ground.

“You will understand then, our concern about the sincerity of your recent statements regarding your desire to find common ground when you clearly and publicly have declared your intention to ‘kill’ this broadly supported and vitally important economic development project,” he wrote.

The project has won the support of many local and state leaders.

That support crosses party lines and includes Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican state Senate majority leader David Brightbill.

State Sen. Gibson E. Armstrong, a Refton Republican, has worked arm in arm with Lancaster state Rep. Mike Sturla, a Democrat, to drive the project forward, noted Cooley.

“They are joined by the constellation of organizations that are committed to the vitality of our community,” continued Cooley.

Consider the benefits, he added.

Developers expect the project to create 590 construction jobs and 200 to 300 full-time jobs if the center/hotel opens as anticipated in 2007.

Additionally, he noted, it will inject nearly $300 million into the local economy during construction; when it opens it will spend $84 million locally each year for goods and services.

Penn Square Partners is composed of general partner Penn Square General Corp., an affiliate of High Industries, and limited partners Fulton Bank and Lancaster Newspapers, publisher of this newspaper.

(Staff writer Bernard Harris contributed to this report.)