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Developer wants bus stop moved farther away from his property

August 15, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

City of Hagerstown officials are considering a request by developer Dominick Perini, who wants the bus stop moved farther from property his company owns at the southwest corner of Public Square.

In making the request, Perini said bus passengers are deterring potential tenants for the property and causing sidewalk congestion.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner agreed that the current County Commuter stop creates an "appearance problem," but said he was not sure where the bus should stop.

The bus stop has been at that location for more than 60 years, Breichner said.

The City Council is to discuss the issue at a September work session, he said.

People waiting for buses to arrive sit on building steps and planters in front of the former People's building, Perini, executive vice president of Perini Properties Corporation, wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to Breichner.

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Perini suggested that the County Commuter stop be moved to in front of the building that formerly housed Washington County District Court. He said the move would provide better access to county government offices, the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center and private businesses.

But Breichner and Councilwoman Carol Moller said they don't want ignored the needs of bus riders to have a place to sit and protection from the elements.

"The public has a right to transportation," Moller said. "They have a right, while they wait, to not have to sit on the ground. What are they supposed to do?"

Perini's request comes after Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright III had two benches removed from in front of the Washington County Courthouse on West Washington Street.

Wright said he took the action in response to problems of people loitering and sleeping on the benches. One bench was taken away and the other was moved to the Summit Avenue side of the building.

The problem of people standing around at both locations does not help the city's attempts to revitalize downtown, Breichner said.

"I think it creates an appearance problem," Breichner said. "It is our standard perception problem we are trying to overcome."

He said he has seen people cross the street to avoid walking past the bus stop.

Moller, the former owner of a business on that block, said there have been problems of people waiting for the bus sitting in front of properties along Washington Street.

Perini said that on Aug. 1, his company took a prospective tenant to check out empty space adjacent to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation offices near Public Square. He said people waiting for buses were sitting on the steps and planters and did not get up to let the visitors pass. Instead, he said, they turned sideways.

"The prospective tenants felt the entrance area was too congested for their operation, which would require elderly people to fight their way through the crowd waiting for the buses," he wrote.

Perini did not return phone calls Thursday.

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