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Downtown summit airs ideas

April 08, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown's Downtown Summit on Saturday brought city officials and residents together for a morning of sharing information and exchanging ideas.

"It was very good. We need to have more of them," said downtown resident Carolyn Lenny.

"People are able to express their ideas and feel connected ... feel part of the process," she said.

The summit was organized around 30-minute sessions on topics including downtown policing, downtown parking projects, and Fairgrounds Park, Discovery Station and the proposed Civil War museum.

Hagerstown resident Peter Schwartz said the summit was "very important because during the course of regular business we don't get a chance to talk." He also liked the opportunity for people "to come together as a group and share ideas."

In the downtown policing session, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur R. Smith discussed his policing theory and some of the strategies targeting the downtown area.

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Smith believes in the broken windows theory of policing, which is that if small problems like broken windows aren't fixed, more serious problems will arise. Conversely, the theory holds, addressing small problems discourages more problems.

Smith also talked about the special three- or four-officer squads he has assigned to concentrate on the downtown area during each patrol shift.

Smith said after the session he learned that people want the downtown patrol officer to have a cell phone so business owners can more easily contact the officer. He also learned about concerns with people hanging out in the library parking lot late at night.

In addition, Smith said he plans to step up enforcement of the city's juvenile curfew law in response to complaints heard at the summit.

"No biggies. Just things I hadn't considered," Smith said. "I learned some things I didn't know."

About 100 people attended the summit. Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said there are plans to hold another summit in the fall.

"There's never enough time. I'm glad they're planning a follow-up," said John Waltersdorf, of Hagerstown.

"There's an awful lot of people in the community who are concerned and interested. ... This is a chance to get involved."

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