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City meets with public about rebuilding of Westview Homes

February 22, 2001

City meets with public about rebuilding of Westview Homes



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


Residents of Westview Homes heard from housing officials and a developer who are seeking federal funds to demolish and rebuild the aging public housing complex during a public meeting Tuesday.

Robert Totaro of Pennrose Properties in Philadelphia told the 20 people in the Westview Homes community building that the meeting was intended as a kickoff to the application process for the $50 million project.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denied an application for the project made last year by the Hagerstown Housing Authority and Pennrose Properties.

Totaro described the application process and noted the meeting was the first in a series to get public input as required by HUD.

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"We want to find out what you think can be done to rebuild this community," he said.

Under the initial Westview proposal, the 210 apartments at the housing complex would be torn down and replaced with 330 new homes and apartments.

West End resident Clarence Rudisill questioned why the city and Totaro were "putting the cart before the horse."

"Why do you have it built already in your minds before you even have the grant?" said Rudisill.

"We must have a plan in order to get the money" answered Totaro.

Rudisill also wanted to know whether the city would continue to apply each year until federal funds were approved.

Ron Nair, the Hagerstown Housing Authority's grants coordinator, said applications are typically rejected the first time around and subsequent applications have a better chance of being approved.

The new homes would be a mix of public housing, regular-rate apartments and homes that would be sold.

There would be a 12,000-square-foot gym, child-care facility, parks and a playground.

The complex would not be a traditional "compound of self-contained units," said Totaro.

The new buildings would go on 27 acres. The existing homes are on 15 acres.

One woman asked whether a supermarket could be placed within the public housing development.

Totaro said that the population in the area may attract a supermarket retailer but that it wouldn't be included in the plans.

Attorney Joy West said it might be a four-year project and residents need to attend the meetings to stay updated.

In addition to housing, the project will include providing case management for residents, she said.

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