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City postpones action on parks study

August 13, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Plans to apply for a $30,000 matching grant to conduct a needs study for Hagerstown's parks system were once again put on hold on Tuesday.

Planning Director Ric Kautz returned to the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday with an alternative to use the grant to hire a consultant for a U.S. 40 corridor study for the area between Cannon Avenue and Interstate 70.

The east entrance to the city needs to be made more attractive, Kautz said.

A corridor plan could create design guidelines for landscaping and signs, including billboards, Kautz said.

After hearing Kautz's alternative, council members remained split over whether the money should be used for the parks study. The study would focus on the city's neighborhood parks and playgrounds, not City Park.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said she wouldn't support spending the grant on the corridor study as long as Department of Public Works Manager Doug Stull felt he needed a parks study.

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Stull gave council members a memo in which he stated the study would provide his department with a "valuable tool," enabling it to better improve parks facilities and recreational programs to meet citizens' needs.

"We react slowly," Stull said. Park improvements made in recent years have involved replacing vandalized equipment or improving equipment safety, Stull said in the memo.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer agreed with Saum-Wicklein that the grant should be used for a parks study.

Councilman William M. Breichner said he thinks the public works department could do the study internally.

Kautz said the department's plate is full and Stull is not a park planner.

Neither Breichner nor Councilman J. Wallace McClure thought the money should be spent on the corridor project.

McClure reiterated that he'd prefer to delay a parks study until the city has redeveloped the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner was absent Tuesday. At a previous meeting Metzner opposed spending the grant on the parks study, which he thought the department could do itself.

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