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Branch library, road repairs, planning and park upgrade top tow

January 08, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Fund-raising for a new branch library, street repairs, improvements to Veterans Park and planning for future growth top Smithsburg's agenda for 2003, Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said recently.

"This is not a wish list," she said. "This is a definite list."

Friends of Smithsburg Library, a group that includes library board members and other project supporters, will strive in 2003 to raise the remainder of the $1 million needed to build a bigger, better new library to serve the area's burgeoning population, Library Board President Judith Ferro said.

The group has secured nearly $60,000 in pledges and donations, and hopes to complete the fund-raising campaign by the end of the year so ground can be broken for the new library early in 2004, Ferro said.

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The current 1,096-square-foot library on East Water Street will be replaced by a 10,000-square-foot library in Veterans Park.

"The donations are coming in each week, but we're getting scared because the grants and the state money aren't there," Ferro said.

Friends of Smithsburg Library is hosting an auction to raise funds for the new library later this month.

Smithsburg town officials will work closely this year with members of the library board and town parks committee to keep the library project moving smoothly, Myers said. Survey work on the 2-acre library site - including planning for roads and utilities - will start later this year, she said.

Improvements to Veterans Park also will continue so the new recreational area can be enjoyed by patrons in 2003. Smithsburg Public Works employees have begun building new picnic tables for the park. The park's existing softball field will be refurbished and a new backstop added, playground equipment will be installed, and a large multi-purpose field will be prepared "as soon as the weather breaks," Myers said.

Smithsburg in August 2002 received a $104,000 state Community Parks & Playgrounds grant to pay for the grading and seeding of the multi-purpose field, purchase and installation of playground equipment and refurbishment of two of the park's 29 acres.

The first phase of the "long overdue" Maple Avenue street overlay project is also slated to start in the spring, Myers said.

The heavily traveled street will be repaved and its curbs replaced from West Water Street to the railroad crossing. Myers also hopes this year to begin improvements to Railroad Lane from Maple Avenue to South Main Street if there is enough money in the fiscal 2003-04 budget, she said.

"That lane is heavily traveled and it is starting to deteriorate," Myers said. "We have to start planning for it now."

Leaders of the fastest growing municipality in Washington County must plan for that growth and development to ensure that the needs of residents are adequately met, Myers said.

"I don't think the average citizen realizes the tremendous changes it demands of town government and police and other services," she said.

A third police officer will begin duty in town later this year, funding sources are being sought for the addition of extra water storage tanks, town ordinances will be revised this year to comply with the recently updated town charter, and an extra staff member might need to be hired to help at Town Hall, Myers said.

Town officials also plan to keep close tabs on a proposed senior citizen apartment complex on nearly 10 acres along Maple Avenue. The Smithsburg Board of Zoning Appeals in September 2002 approved Smithsburg General Store owner Richard Grove's heavily opposed special exception request for rental apartments and a community center on land zoned town residential and used for agriculture.

The site plans for the development - which will impact the town's streets and water and sewer services - are being reviewed by the Smithsburg Planning Commission, Myers said.

"We have to really monitor that very carefully," she said.

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