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Commissioners vote to fund parking lot upgrades

September 28, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

At the request of Hagerstown City Council, the Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $307,000 for improvements to a downtown parking lot.

The County Commissioners were scheduled to vote on the expenditure for the lot on the northeast corner of Public Square during a joint city-county meeting last week.

The commissioners postponed the vote after Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein told them the parking lot was a possible location for a proposed Civil War museum.

A letter from Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II to the County Commissioners, dated the next day, said "the city has removed the area of the Northeast Quadrant identified for the parking project from consideration as a location for the Civil War Museum."

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After Bruchey reiterated that point verbally, the commissioners Tuesday agreed to spend $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 utility lines and adding 142 public parking spaces, according to current plans.

The commissioners had $182,000 left in the current budget for downtown projects. That, along with $125,000 from the Capital Improvement Program budget contingency fund, will be used for the parking lot.

At a Sept. 21 meeting, the commissioners voted to move $1 million of a $2.5 million budget surplus to that fund.

The vote was 3-1 with Commissioner William J. Wivell opposed. Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook didn't vote.

Wivell said he feels any money the County Commissioners have available should go toward paying off the $52 million water and sewer debt rather than to new projects. He questioned whether the City Council had exhausted all other possible funding sources, including the federal and state governments, before turning to the county.

"We have tapped into every thing that's possible right now," Bruchey said.

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