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'Idea man' sizes up park plan

February 11, 1999

As a general rule, I don't like "idea people." The ones who come up and say "Hey, I think it would be really funny if you would write a column on how like when the alarm clock goes off in the morning? And then you turn the alarm off? But then you go back to sleep and then you're late for work because you didn't get up when the alarm clock rang?"

But when someone is not only willing to suggest a column idea, but to write a column-length synopsis ... And when I'm not in a terribly creative mood ... And when the temperature is predicted to hit 60 degrees...

Let's just say there's an exception to every rule, so I'll pass on this letter from someone I'll call "Earl," largely because he is actually named Earl (I said I wasn't feeling terribly creative):

Tim,

I couldn't help but chuckle, heck I laughed out loud, at today's page one story regarding all the support for a state Civil War battlefield park on South Mountain.

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What a kiss of death.

If this announcement alone wasn't enough to kill the project, the intent to increase tourism and visitors and employment and MONEY (gasp!) in the county guarantees the county's next valiant attempt to grab failure from the cusp of success.

Here's what is certain to happen:

1: The county delegation will voice support for the project.

2: County government will voice support for the project.

3: On the application form the word "Landfill" is accidentally substituted for the word "Park" and all the trees in the area will be cut down to make room.

4: The refuse from the other potential tourist/historical sites; the Roundhouse and the Kammerer "its just a" House, will be spread uniformly over the area.

5. Frederick County meanwhile will run with the idea and Middletown will build a South Mountain Museum.

6. Needing a place to store all the wood from the trees cut from the new Historic South Mountain Civil War Landfill, the county finds Municipal Stadium empty and fills it with firewood, thus canceling the next Suns season and proudly preventing any chance of benefit from having a minor league team in Hagerstown.

7. New York contracts to send trash to the new Historic South Mountain Civil War Landfill, using I-81, I-70 and then Alternate U.S. 40 as the route.

8. Because the new Civil War Landfill is five feet within Frederick County, that county will get all the funds from New York.

8. Boonsboro, to battle the truck-traffic problem, solves the dilemma with an order to have the current street lights lowered 10 feet, and loaded with 40-watt bulbs, so no one will see the trash trucks distributed throughout the mile of traffic backed up at the square in Boonsboro.

9. The new South Mountain Museum in Middletown wins design awards and Conde Nast awards Frederick County "Destination of the Year" status.

10. The tourist traffic to the new South Mountain Museum in Middletown is recognized as so beneficial to the state, the governor recognizes Frederick County and Middletown with both an award and grants to continue their accomplishments. The Suns move to Myersville.

11. Washington County initiates their discussions of establishing a new Historic South Mountain Landfill State Park.

12. Roscoe Bartlett pledges support and sets a meeting date for discussion of a new park with county officials, the CSX Corp. and Ken Starr.

13. At the meeting, Bartlett pledges support for projects to increase tourism, visitors and employment, but Starr leaks a report that indicates ideas for South Mountain were "stolen" by Frederick and Middletown and issues a subpoena for Ron Bowers.

14. Reacting with lightning speed, The Herald-Mail editors assign a package of stories about sewer plant costs.

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