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City gets $70,000 in grants

December 18, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown received two state grants totaling $70,000 for revitalization projects, including a $50,000 grant that will help the Washington County Arts Council pay for a new Arts Center.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s office announced the grants Wednesday. The grants are part of the Maryland Community Legacy program.

The Community Legacy Program is designed to assist urban neighborhoods, suburban communities and small towns in revitalization efforts.

The state awarded $9 million for 75 such projects statewide.

Hagerstown Planning Director Kathy Maher said by phone that the Arts Council is in the process of deciding whether to renovate a four-story building at 28 S. Potomac St. in the city's Arts and Entertainment District downtown.

The Arts Council's headquarters, which includes a gallery, currently is at 41 S. Potomac.

Arts Council Executive Director Elizabeth Lay said moving to another location would allow for the expansion of the gallery. There also would be room for other arts organizations to move into the building, which would create a strong arts presence downtown, she said.

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"I think it would be a benefit to the organizations and to the community," Lay said.

The Arts Center project is projected to cost about $1.5 million and to be completed in 2006, Lay said.

The center, if it goes in at 28 S. Potomac St., would be near the Washington County Board of Education's proposed School for the Arts.

Maher said the city applied for a $150,000 grant from the state, but that officials were pleased with the $50,000 award.

Lay said the idea for an Arts Center came from a proposal the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce made several years ago.

But the $22 million to $25 million price tag on the chamber's proposal was too much for the city, so the Arts Council proposed the new plan, Lay said.

The state also announced the city will receive a $20,000 grant to go toward a $100,000 feasibility study for the proposed School for the Arts, Maher said.

Vincent Groh donated the former Henry's Theater at 9-11 S. Potomac St. to be used as the School for the Arts.

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