Town hopes to improve in small steps

January 14, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - Small steps toward bettering the town - replacing street lights, converting electricity distribution and adding space to watch a ballgame - are planned in Williamsport in 2004.

But so far, the focal point of the year seems be the Conococheague Little League's golden anniversary.

The Town Council is part of a committee planning the best way to celebrate.

"Maybe we'll find some old ballplayers," Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. said.

This summer, Williamsport also will host the state Little League tournament for 11- and 12-year-old players.

The National Park Service is planning a 50th anniversary event that will pass through town - on the C&O Canal towpath.

In 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas hiked all 184.5 miles of the canal to show why it shouldn't be converted into a highway.


This year's commemoration of that "hike that created a park," as the National Park Service is calling it, will start April 18 in Cumberland, Md.

It will be broken into legs of 10 to 15 miles. National Park Service spokeswoman Kathy Sholl said the hike will go from McCoys Ferry to Williamsport on April 24 and from Williamsport to Dam 4 on April 25.

The town's activities calendar will include annual favorites, such as the Fourth of July fireworks and C&O Canal Days, Mayor John W. Slayman said.

Development and growth projects, though, are less common in Williamsport than in some other parts of Washington County.

While the county's population rose by 8.7 percent, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, Williamsport's dropped by 11.2 percent.

"I know we're a small town," Pereschuk said. "We really don't have much land left for people to build."

Springfield Manor

One notable project under way is a 36-unit apartment complex called Springfield Manor. It is an extension of the Washington County Housing Authority's senior citizen housing community called Parkview Knoll.

The Housing Authority will install retaining walls to shift the road near the complex away from a ball field, Executive Director Richard Willson said. A side effect is new lawn seats for spectators at the ballgames.

The Housing Authority's contract calls for the project to be finished by April, he said.

As of Jan. 6, 70 people were on the waiting list for apartments.

School open house

In April, Williamsport Elementary School will hold an open house to showcase an $8.5 million renovation project, most of which was finished last fall.

Principal Carolyn Moore said many current Williamsport residents attended the elementary school and therefore have a connection.

The town's water and sewer system are "pretty well up to date," Pereschuk said, but some meters may be replaced.

The town will continue to convert its electricity transmission lines from 4-kilovolt to 12-kilovolt, Councilman James G. McCleaf II said.

Also, 17 street lights will be installed along Potomac Street, he said.

Councilman Monty R. Jones said two traffic lights on Artizan Street that freeze and blink in the cold will be fixed. He said it will cost about $8,000 to fix each light.

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