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Letters to the Editor

February 07, 2000

Attitudes must change for downtown to survive

To the editor:

An opinion letter I wrote regarding the sad turn of events which I believe lead to the demise of a fine downtown restaurant, Round The Square, prompted a local civic leader to call me at home and express his opposition. He disagreed with my concern that the downtown area of Hagerstown is dying a slow death.

He was concerned that I no longer supported the new stadium, the downtown district or Washington County's efforts to foster small business growth. He knows me better and I believe it was his concern for my change in attitude about Hagerstown's future that prompted the call.

Rest assured, I haven't changed my mind. I have always believed and will continue to support the concept that a strong community can only survive with a strong downtown district as its heart and soul.

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I believe a new stadium is necessary to enhance the lifestyle so many people cherish in Washington County. I believe it's imperative that an environment exist which allows restaurants and businesses like Round The Square to flourish and grow, providing jobs and the opportunity for more businesses to consider downtown. Unfortunately, I'm becoming more and more skeptical about the viability of small businesses in a district which is under attack by malls, outlet centers and strip centers. I support the new stadium for the benefits it can offer the population of our county, yet I'm uncertain it will succeed. If my recollection is correct, the study originally done for the ice rink actually said our county could support two rinks. We now have one and it's struggling with our politicians bickering over who is to blame.

We have a landmark in the Maryland Theater, yet it can't sell enough tickets to support itself. We have a spectacular museum which is empty most of the time. This is the complacency I referred to in my letter about Round The Square. If the citizens of Washington County prefer to drive to a mall and bypass the downtown, then downtown will die. The lunchtime population occupying the downtown district can't provide the necessary economics it will take to foster growth and success in the downtown district.

I supported the University of Maryland's move to the Baldwin House and believe it will be a major influence on all the businesses downtown.

Unfortunately, it's coming too late for Round The Square. Let's hope it is in time to help other businesses.

While employed in Washington County I did everything possible to support and nurture small business in Hagerstown and Washington County and I believe I was successful at achieving that goal. I believe it is important that our civic leaders, politicians and citizens go out of their way to provide the same kind of support which is needed to keep our city and county healthy. That support must come on a personal level. Let's all use the ice rink, attend a baseball game and buy a ticket to the Maryland Theatre, whether we want to or not. If any of these gems is allowed to die, it will diminish life in Washington County.

I hope I can put to rest my friend's concern that I no longer support downtown. But until I see some changes in attitude, I'm afraid I will remain a skeptic.

John Mazzocchi

Hagerstown

We work for those spaces

To the editor:

I read the recent article stating that it's illegal to block the parking space in front of your house. I'm sure I echo the sentiments of many when I say that under certain circumstances we as taxpayers should have the right to do so.

Many of us spend countless hours clearing at times up to a couple of feet of snow from these spaces only to come home from work, a trip to the store or wherever to find that someone has taken that very spot that we worked so hard to clear.

Do you people actually believe that we cleared this spot just for you? I don't think so! That two feet of snow didn't just melt away from that parking spot either.

I guess for argument's sake you can say that it's public parking and you have the right to park where you wish and according to the city you would be right.

But what it really comes down to is this: It's only a matter of time before the snow is cleared and things will be back to normal, so show a little common courtesy for those of us who spent a lot of time and energy to clear that spot. I don't think its too much to ask from you to just show us a little consideration during this time.

Randy Turner

Hagerstown

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