More parking, patrols needed for arts district

January 08, 1998

More parking, patrols needed for arts district


Staff Writer

More parking and more patrol officers on foot downtown were the top two priorities business leaders said were needed to support an arts and entertainment district in downtown Hagerstown.

Members of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Task Force discussed priorities with the mayor and city council members during a Tuesday night work session.

Elected and civic leaders want to make the first block of South Potomac Street an arts and entertainment district that will attract tourists, expand the tax base and increase business for existing businesses, said Acting Chairman Tom Newcomer.


Councilman J. Wallace McClure had two suggestions to help with parking and security.

Hiring extra security for downtown events would be less costly than hiring more police, McClure said.

Task force member Charles Sekula said extra security is needed on a regular basis, not just for special events.

Sekula cited a stabbing near his Schmankerl Stube Restaurant on Sunday night that resulted in him having to wash blood off a customer's car.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said council members would discuss downtown police coverage more in depth during next Tuesday's work session.

McClure also suggested downtown restaurateurs and merchants consider having a trolley or other form of unique transportation provide rides for people from the entertainment district to the parking deck on North Potomac Street.

Sekula had said some of his customers don't feel safe walking to and from the parking deck.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested valet parking, but task force members said that can get expensive with insurance.

Other suggestions from the task force included having an IMAX theater in the district and a skywalk between the Maryland Theatre and Hager's Row.

Task force member Marc Levy said the skywalk was his "pie in the sky" suggestion.

Levy said his idea was to provide a performing arts complex for organizations that needed large spaces such as the Maryland Theatre as well as smaller areas for rehearsals or meetings. There is room in the neighboring building, including along Hager's Row and the former home of Tres School for the Arts, said Levy, managing director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

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