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Town leaders of Hancock, Clear Spring meet with commissioners

March 13, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - A nostalgic look back at better days coupled with an optimistic eye toward the future engaged the town leaders of Hancock and Clear Spring Tuesday night as they met with the Washington County Board of Commissioners and citizens at Hancock Town Hall.

The annual tax rebate meeting drew only four or five residents, one of whom expressed his displeasure with the economic downturn plaguing Washington County and all of Maryland.

"Washington County ought to be a rich county," Hancock resident Frank Courtney said. "I see all the development ... Hagerstown is growing by leaps and bounds."

Commission President Gregory I. Snook said, however, commercial construction is down all over the county.

"We've had some good years but this year is going to be rough for everyone," Snook said.

Hancock Mayor Daniel Murphy and Clear Spring Vice Mayor Julie Albowicz each spoke to the commissioners of their desire to develop "people parks" in their towns.

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"We're looking at a piece of land behind the town hall where we could put a gazebo, some benches, trails and lights for people to go," Albowicz said. She handed out maps showing the proposed site.

Commissioner Paul Swartz, who also serves on the county parks board, told Albowicz that he couldn't remember the last time Clear Spring asked for any help with park land and suggested the town might meet with success.

Snook said there is little chance for funds this year but urged the town to aggressively seek money in the next budget.

"There would be a good chance next year," Snook said.

Murphy echoed Albowicz's sentiment, suggesting that the site where six flood-damaged Hancock homes were demolished recently would be an excellent place for a park.

"A bandstand in the area where the rail/trails are would be terrific," Murphy said.

The park also is to have a replica of a Chesapeake and Ohio Canal boat.

The residences were damaged in 1996 by flooding from the Potomac River and the Little Tonoloway Creek.

The town received federal, state and county money to help purchase and demolish the buildings. The demolition cost about $32,400, and the total project cost was about $350,000, he said. The cost to the town was about $60,000.

Other issues that came up Tuesday night were:

- The thinning of Maryland State Police coverage to augment the Hancock Police because of budget cuts in that state agency.

- Slow progress in seeing improvements to the Rayloc Road.

"We've been waiting six years for that to happen and we're still waiting," Murphy said.

Snook promised to see what he could do to push that project along.

Hancock received $38,586 as its property tax set-off allocation for fiscal year 2002, down nearly 13 percent from last year.

Clear Spring's share was $2,000, the same amount it has received for many years.

The towns' shares are based in part on population and the services they provide.

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