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Funds sought for neighborhood beautification

November 19, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Housing Authority on Tuesday asked the Hagerstown City Council to approve spending $600,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help pay for a proposed neighborhood beautification program by the new Gateway Crossing development.

Under the proposal, some of the money would be used for improving the appearance of property near the Gateway Crossing development by planting trees, installing decorative streetlights and doing facade work, Authority Executive Director Ted Shankle said.

In October 2001, the city committed $1.5 million in financial support to the project. Of that amount, the city has allocated $900,000 to Elgin Station, the new multipurpose community center in the West End.

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Shankle came before the council Tuesday to talk about how the authority would like to use the other $600,000.

The facade work would include painting, siding replacement, adding shutters, porch and gutter repairs, and porch replacement, he said.

The idea is to improve the quality of property near the development to match that of the development, he said.

Many trees are being planted for the development but the authority would like to see trees along the property beyond the development's borders, he said.

Under the proposal, trees will be added on Summer, Ross and Concord streets, Buena Vista and Main avenues, and Westport Drive.

During his presentation, Shankle also gave an update on the project.

Earlier this year, contractors finished demolition of the 50-year-old Westview Homes public housing project and started construction on Gateway Crossing, the replacement community that Hagerstown Housing Authority officials hope will reinvigorate that part of the city's West End.

The 600 people who lived in the 210-unit Westview Homes had to find other housing during construction of the 400-unit Gateway Crossing development.

Shankle has estimated the project's total cost at about $73.5 million.

Last week, the first Gateway Crossing residents began moving in.

Since early August, the Hagerstown Housing Authority has received 309 applications for the 290 rental units that will be available, Shankle said. Of the 309 applications, 55 are from former Westview residents.

Former residents are to be given priority over other applicants, provided they meet new criteria - they are not elderly or disabled, must have been working for at least a year and have had no problems with their lease - Shankle said.

Fifty-five people have prequalified in applications for 68 homes going up for sale as part of the project and 32 have made "lot holds," he said.

Shankle said construction on the first of those homes will start next month.

In the new class-integrated neighborhood, rented and owned property will be intermingled, a step housing authority officials have said they hope will invigorate the West End community.

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