Bruchey calls for boosting 'perceptions' of city

March 04, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

see the enlargement

State of stateBruchey calls for boosting 'perceptions' of city

In his first State of the City Address Tuesday, Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II stressed the need to turn around residents' bad perception of their hometown.

"Perception is something our city needs to understand. Perception of this city is very important," Bruchey told about 140 people at the Venice Inn.

City residents have a lot to be proud of, he said.

Bruchey said that once, when he was living in Salisbury, Md., a stranger asked him where he was from. When Bruchey told him Hagerstown, the man remarked that the city has the most beautiful, natural city park in the country.


But some people who live here view City Park as a place where ducks make a mess and prostitutes hang out, he said.

"I don't look at it that way. We have a gem in this city, in the heart of this city," he said.

Bruchey also listed initiatives the city government has undertaken in the last year, such as increasing citizen involvement in city government and opening the lines of communication with Washington County government.

Bruchey talked about one of the city's main goals - increasing home ownership.

Sixty percent of residences in the city are occupied by renters and 40 percent by homeowners.

"Our goal is to reverse this statistic" through several home ownership programs the city has started, Bruchey said.

Another goal of the city is to fight crime, he said, highlighting the new Street Crime Unit, Hot Spots initiative and bicycle patrols, he said.

Bruchey talked about a phone call he got at 10:30 one night from a resident on Jonathan Street complaining about drunk people.

Bruchey went out and didn't see anyone, but before he knew it three officers on bike patrol had sneaked up on him and he realized why the streets were empty.

Financially, the city has had a good year, although the city must address a growing reliance on property taxes, he said.

Some of the city's accomplishments in the last year, according to Bruchey:

* Two new ladder trucks for the Fire Department.

* An increase in fire department public education programs, coinciding with a decrease in fires since 1991.

* Water, sewer and electric utilities that are supported solely through user fees.

* A new electric substation on Wesel Boulevard that will replace one at City Park and support growth in that area.

* Keeping District Court downtown with an improved parking plan for the block between West Washington and West Antietam streets.

* New businesses, including two new pharmacies and a Comfort Suites hotel.

* Business incentives to improve facades and signs and a revolving loan fund.

* Downtown improvements to Public Square and a burgeoning arts and entertainment district on South Potomac Street.

* Opening of the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex.

* An emphasis on Civil War tourism, with the 135th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

The Herald-Mail Articles