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Renovated Public Square dedicated

September 23, 1998

Dedication of SquareBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photos: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




More than 100 people turned out on Tuesday to dedicate Hagerstown's newly renovated Public Square - a project local business and civic leaders said has contributed to a downtown revitalization.

The project cost approximately $507,811 and took almost 10 months to complete, city officials said.

Traffic for one block each way on Potomac and Washington streets was shut down for about 30 minutes as local leaders cut a blue ribbon that had been wrapped around the perimeter of the square.

"We can build off this," Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II told the crowd.

The revitalization of downtown has spread beyond the square to include new businesses arriving, some vacant buildings being renovated and existing businesses taking advantage of the city's facade grant program to spruce up, Bruchey said.

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Developers are looking at city-owned vacant buildings, such as the Baldwin House complex and the former Tristate Electrical Supply Co. Inc. building, he said.

"We're going to see some great things happen in the next 18 months to further revitalize downtown," Bruchey said.

In an interview after the ceremony, Bruchey said that when he was campaigning for mayor in 1997 he believed there were more important projects than renovating the square, such as revitalizing downtown business and improving police protection.

High viewThanks to him, he said, those have come true as well.

Bruchey and former Mayor Steven T. Sager, under whose administration the project began, unveiled a plaque on the Clock Building for the square dedication.

Construction began Aug. 4, 1997, and wrapped up in early May this year, said City Engineer Bruce Johnston.

Sager said the project was due since the square was last renovated in 1975.

The 1975 renovation squared off the roundish intersection, eliminated parking and made traffic proceed in a more orderly fashion.

It cost $524,000 in 1975, translating into $1.66 million in 1997 dollars.

Johnston said the project probably cost less this time because the basic framework was still intact, whereas in 1975 new, expanded curb lines had to be installed as well as wiring for traffic signals and pedestrian lighting.

The most recent renovation was paid for with $200,000 from federal transportation funds, $157,274 from the city's general fund, $101,200 from federal Community Development Block Grants, $30,000 from a state sidewalk matching grant and $19,337 from selling bricks with buyers' names on them, said City Finance Director Al Martin.

Callas Contractors was paid $413,054 for the renovation, Martin said.

The final design was a collaboration of consultant Cy Paumier and members of a citizens group, who suggested included keeping some of the older trees and making the curbed planters smaller.

Johnston said about 76,000 bricks are in the new square.

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