Park, pride and fighting crime are among town's goals

January 07, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

A new sign on Md. 64 welcoming motorists to Smithsburg might symbolize that 2004 will be a year of new things in the fastest growing town in Washington County.

Plans for the coming year call for work at Veterans Park, a renewed spirit of pride among the business community and a fresh way of dealing with the town's juvenile offenders.

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said there will be some work done at Veterans Park in 2004.

Most notably, Myers said, the town hopes to break ground for a new library by mid-summer, provided fund-raising efforts continue at the current pace. She said about three-fourths of the needed money has been raised.


Myers said the town is working with Washington County to start getting bids ready and putting final touches on the design of the library's facade.

Myers said the town also is working to secure grant money for the first phase of a park trail. There are plans to add a small parking lot and a road close to the multi-purpose fields and the softball diamond, she said.

Myers said the Historical Society may find a new home. Once the library's services are moved to the new building at Veterans Park, the society likely will move into the old library building and use it for operations, meetings and exhibits, she said.

"We'll have this building that no one wants to see destroyed; that isn't being used," she said. "People are saying, 'what's going to happen to that building, we love that building.' I think it's going to be a very good marriage."

Business pride

Bill Davis, chairman of the Smithsburg Improvement Committee, said 2004 will be a year when pride is re-instilled into the Smithsburg business community.

Instead of trying to lure new businesses, he said, the committee, formerly called the Economic Development Commission, will focus on making existing businesses more attractive to patrons.

Davis said the committee is trying to lure visitors from across the county and beyond. Davis said the committee will use as a marketing tool the "Norman Rockwell, town untouched by time" image that some have of Smithsburg.

"We haven't let all the technology that's all around us influence the type of town we live in," he said. "I think there are people out there that will appeal to. It'll tickle their curiosity enough to check us out."

To attract visitors, the plan is to create and distribute a calendar of historic photographs of the town and a brochure highlighting town merchants, Davis said.

"I think if we can accomplish that, everything else will be icing on the cake," Davis said.

Targeting juvenile crime

Meanwhile, police will be targeting the major crime issue affecting the town over the last year - juvenile crime.

Smithsburg Police Chief Mike Potter said there has been a fair amount of juvenile crime, partly because of the limited activities for the increasing number of young people in the town.

Potter said the Citizen-Police Advisory Committee is working to create more programs, like dances, to help curb juvenile offenses by giving young people more to do.

Potter said an initiative that police hope to continue in 2004 is having the juvenile offenders ordered to perform their court-mandated community service in the town. He said that would improve youths' image of the town and help get necessary, but not top-priority, projects done.

"We have them doing things like painting curbs so they take pride in their own community," he said. "These are jobs we can't get to right away. This lets us do that."

The added interaction between police and the juveniles could prevent the young people from acting out again, Potter speculated.

"They see us as human beings instead of just cops," Potter said. "In a small town, that's very important."

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