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Panel backs $161 million project package

October 27, 2000

Panel backs $161 million project package



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Greater Hagerstown Committee told the Hagerstown City Council and the Washington County Commissioners on Friday they have endorsed a package of nine projects totaling about $161 million that they would like the city and county governments to include in their legislative requests of the Maryland General Assembly.

The package has also been endorsed by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Going into the meeting, the committee said that rather than prioritizing the nine projects they were listing all of them as "priority one."

But after hearing from commissioners and council members, the committee decided to pare down the list, said Committee Chairman James Latimer. That will be done at an as-yet-unscheduled meeting in the next month, prior to a Dec. 1 meeting between the local delegation and the committee, he said.

However, city and county elected officials said that strategy would be unsuccessful and could backfire. The committee should name a few of the projects as the top priorities, they said.

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The projects receiving the most vocal support during the 90-minute meeting were a $4.4 million Open Space and parking plan for downtown, extension of a Hagerstown Regional Airport runway and related work on U.S. 11, estimated at a total of $36 million to $38 million.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said the open space plan and the runway were their top priorities. The downtown work would enhance the $12.5 million University of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center, Iseminger said.

Iseminger said the city and county will probably include some of the requests as part of their legislative requests.

Also on the list, but not discussed at the meeting, was moving the Board of Education downtown, estimated to cost $4 million. The committee is seeking grants to help fund such a move, Latimer said.

Commissioner William J. Wivell said many of the proposals on the list were mostly "feel-good projects." He was under the impression the county's priorities were to help with education and transportation, he said.

Among the approximately 50 people attending the meeting were all of the Hagerstown City Council members, but not Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II. All the Washington County Commissioners were there except Commissioner Paul L. Swartz.

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