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Council candidate wants safer downtown

February 05, 2001

Council candidate wants safer downtown



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Victoria K. BodnarVictoria K. Bodnar's plan for a safer and cleaner downtown Hagerstown, calls for landlord registration, more police visibility, and increased effort to recruit new businesses and encourage home-ownership.

Bodnar, a Republican candidate for City Council, said a landlord registration program would impose a small fee and an annual property inspection.

"Responsible landlords have nothing to fear. ... Landlord registration is real important. I know it's unpopular, but we can't act like it doesn't exist. A lot of the blight is rental properties. ... If the landlords don't want registration they should come up with a better way to do it," Bodnar said.

Bodnar said she and her husband Ted own property in Northern Virginia where there is such a registration program, and she likes it.

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"It protects our property values," she said.

"It's got to look visibly better for people to want to stay here, or shop here, or live here" Bodnar said about downtown. "Appearance makes a difference."

Bodnar, 56, resides at 117 E. Franklin St., and says she's seen the drug and crime problems in Hagerstown.

"Hagerstown needs more police visibility," she said, adding that the recently expanded police foot patrol "is a good start."

Also, Bodnar said the city should offer tax incentives for small businesses and homeowners to fix up and stay in downtown properties.

She said there is a lot of traffic moving through downtown now.

"Why are people not stopping here? Because it's not clean and they feel unsafe. The square is good but we have to branch out," she said.

Bodnar, a commercial decorator, said she didn't plan on becoming so involved in the community, or launching her first bid for public office, when she moved to Hagerstown in July 1998.

"I became involved out of necessity," said Bodnar, who is active in a neighborhood group and a crime-watch group.

"I want to be a voice for the quality of life issues for those of us who reside here, in downtown," she said.

"The issues are different in different sections of the city. You need to be there to really see it," she said.

Also, Bodnar said all council meetings should start at 7 p.m. so that more people could attend them,

Currently, there are three council work session meetings a month that start at 4 p.m. and one council voting session meeting a month that starts at 7 p.m.

"The time change would make it more accessible to people," she said. "How many working people can get there at 4 p.m.?"

Bodnar is one of eight Republicans in the city's March 13 primary. The general election is May 15.

Council members are paid $8,000 a year.

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