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Bowers says town must look at water supply

January 09, 2002

Bowers says town must look at water supply



By ANDREW SCHOTZ
andrews@herald-mail.com


Smithsburg must "seriously look" at expanding its water supply, Mayor Tommy Bowers said as he pondered what lies ahead in town government in 2002.

The city of Hagerstown sells the town a maximum of 240,000 gallons of water per day. Bowers said the town's usage is growing and is now at about 210,000 gallons a day.

It would cost the town a one-time fee - almost $5 per additional gallon - to raise the cap, Bowers said, so that probably won't happen anytime soon.

Other improvement ideas that Bowers mentioned also may stretch beyond the coming year.

The biggest project in the future, the mayor said, is the reconstruction of Maple Avenue, which is not likely to happen for several years.

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Bowers said the town council may discuss enacting impact fees this year as a way to cover the costs associated with development, such as for water, roads, police protection and garbage collection.

The town will improve its street lighting this year, he said.

Councilman Jerome Martin and Bowers agreed that the construction of a new Smithsburg branch of the Washington County Free Library will be a high priority.

Bowers said he hasn't seen much progress on the library branch.

That's because little could happen until the land was secured, said Mildred "Mickey" Myers, who is leading a group working on the project.

On Monday, the group finished a packet outlining a swap of two acres in Veterans Park for two acres near Smithsburg Elementary School, Myers said. Under the guidelines of a state grant, the transfer is necessary before the town can build a library in the park.

Work on Veterans' Park is expected to progress this year, too.

Myers, former mayor and chairwoman of the town's Park Commission, said there is about $80,000 left in a Maryland Program Open Space grant for developing the park. The town must use up the money from that grant before it can apply for another one, Myers said.

The town also recently received a separate $67,500 state grant for work on the park, Myers said.

The project includes a pavilion with restrooms, a playground and a multipurpose area and sidewalks.

"My personal goal is that the park will be used by people by the end of the summer - or at least some of it," Myers said.

Bowers and council members Jerome Martin and Jake Johnson agreed that one problem was recently solved when the council hired a new police chief.

Michael Potter, who retired from the Maryland State Police to become Smithsburg's chief, adds stability to the town's police force, Bowers said.

"Chief Potter brings, I think, a new focus," Johnson said.

The position had been vacant since Ralf Berger quit five months ago.

Martin thinks that was too long of a delay.

"We wasted too much time worrying about that," he said.

Martin said the Town Council this year will make sure that street overlays in the Whispering Hills subdivision are completed.

Bowers, Martin and Johnson said they couldn't predict what effect the May town election would have on the big issues.

Bowers is up for re-election. He said he is "98 percent" certain whether he will run again, but he's not telling anyone for now.

Councilmen Mike Rohrer's and Charlie Slick's terms end this year. Slick announced Tuesday he will not run again.

Johnson said he has an idea for a referendum for the May ballot, but he wouldn't disclose what it is before the Town Council workshop later this month.

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