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Some question downtown site for museum

March 25, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

While some Washington County residents polled about a proposed new Civil War museum in Hagerstown were enthusiastic, others are questioning its proposed placement downtown.

"I travel a lot, and if something I want to see is out of my way, I don't go," said Sharpsburg resident Francis Olson. "If I was at the (Antietam) battlefield and I had to travel 14 miles to Hagerstown to a museum, I wouldn't go."

Olson, 59, was also concerned about the atmosphere downtown.

"I go to the Maryland Theatre, but I can't walk there from a parking lot without being approached by a wino," Olson said.

Lois Green, 63, of Hagerstown, said she is not sure a museum downtown would attract that many tourists.

"Traveling people get off the interstates to go to the battlefield," Green said. "It seems a little far for them to then travel into downtown Hagerstown."

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Jim Slayman, 49, of Hagerstown, doesn't want people to be displaced to make way for the museum.

Another Hagerstown resident, who didn't want her name used, said she thinks it's foolhardy to tear down a whole block for the museum, which she thinks should be in Sharpsburg.

Paul Harp, 31, of Hagerstown, thinks the museum is a good idea ... if it is located at the battlefield in Sharpsburg.

"They say it would bring in a lot of tourists and that's good," said Shirley Stickler, 64, of Hagerstown.

Rohrersville resident Florence Sandy worries about increased traffic.

"I just don't think it's a good idea," said Sandy, 63.

Janice Johnson, 76, of Hagerstown, shares Sandy's concerns about traffic.

The idea of a museum downtown is no better than a college downtown in the opinion of 58-year-old Norma Thompson, who lives around the corner from the proposed museum site.

"It's a wonderful idea but the location is all wrong," said Alma O'Toole, 83, of Hagerstown.

Others are convinced the benefits would outweigh the inconveniences.

"We're getting rid of too many memories of the past," said 82-year-old Katherine Fink of Mapleville Road. "I think the museum would be a good way to preserve those memories."

Sarah Hampton, 64, is very much in favor of the downtown site.

Fred Rockenbaugh thinks the museum is a good idea wherever it is built.

Another proponent of the downtown museum site is Dennis Bishop, who remembers fondly his childhood when downtown Hagerstown was a safe and pleasant place to visit and to shop. He would like to see that again.

"I think the museum is a great idea," the 51-year-old Hagerstown resident said. "It could bring vitality back into that block, which is deteriorating."

Noreen Whalen is enthusiastic about the museum going in downtown.

"I'm all for it. ... we need one," said the 57-year-old Hagerstown woman.

Drista Stultz likes the idea of the museum.

"It would be a good tourist attraction, but only if it is a quality museum," said the 51-year-old Hagerstown resident.

Downtown Hagerstown resident Linda Knight is all for the museum, which would literally be built in her backyard.

From her home at 155 S. Potomac St., Knight, who admits to being over 40, believes there will be plenty of interest in the museum.

If the proposal succeeds in adding parking in the area where the Baltimore Street Station car wash is, Knight feels the museum will definitely bring people downtown.

Parking spaces have always been scarce in the area where the L-shaped museum site is planned for the corner of Antietam and Potomac streets.

At least one business owner in the affected block is still in favor of the project.

"Any tourist attraction is a good thing," said Don Young, 64, owner of the Copper Kettle Metal Polishing Gift Shop at 158 1/2 S. Potomac St.

But Young tempered his zeal with a hope that parking and other services necessary to support such a museum would be forthcoming.

Hagerstown resident Richard Kretzer isn't as confident as Young on the subject of whether the museum would be good for businesses in the area.

"People established in business tend to lose customers when they leave and go somewhere else," said the 73-year-old Kretzer.

If the museum would occupy the southwest corner as proposed, several businesses would be dislocated.

"There are other places that museum could go," Kretzer said, "like, for instance, the old Moose building on the Downsville Pike."

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