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Commissioners delay vote on parking lot funds

September 21, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A majority of Washington County Commissioners seemed willing Tuesday to give more than $300,000 to the City of Hagerstown for improvements to a downtown parking lot.

But once they heard that a proposed Civil War museum could be built on a portion of the lot, which is behind the buildings on the northeast corner of Public Square, the commissioners pulled back and instead voted to postpone a decision on the funding until next week.

A majority of commissioners said before committing any money to the project they want the City Council to promise that a museum will not be built on any part of the parking lot.

Later, after the commissioners had left the joint city-county meeting, City Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner, J. Wallace McClure and William M. Breichner said they supported withdrawing the parking lot from a list of potential museum sites.

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The city is asking the commissioners for $307,000 to fund the completion of improvements to a parking lot between the first blocks of East Franklin and East Washington streets.

The improvements will cost $542,000 and will include burying some of the utility lines and adding 142 public parking spaces to the lot, according to current plans.

During the discussion of the county's contribution, City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said an area including the parking lot was being considered as a possible site for a Civil War museum.

Saum-Wicklein said other areas being considered include the first blocks of South Potomac and West Antietam streets.

City Engineer Bruce Johnston said if a museum were built at the parking lot site, $30,000 worth of pavement to be laid as part of the improvement project might have to be removed.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said if that were to happen, and part of the parking lot they just laid was torn up, they would be a "laughing stock."

Commissioners John L. Schnebly, Bert L. Iseminger Jr. and Swartz said the city should remove the parking lot area as a potential site for a museum.

The commissioners voted 3-1 to postpone voting on contributing money to the parking lot project until next week.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook did not vote on the matter.

Commissioner William J. Wivell voted against that motion. Wivell wanted to postpone the vote until next month.

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