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City, county, business leaders meet privately

July 23, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Officials from the City of Hagerstown and Washington County, local business representatives and Hagerstown Suns General Manager Kurt Landes met behind closed doors Thursday.

People who attended the two-hour meeting at the Four Points Sheraton had little to say about it afterward.

A reporter who showed up at the meeting was asked to leave.

Shortly after the meeting ended, Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said, "We talked about redevelopment for downtown."

When asked what the meeting was about, Richard Phoebus Sr., president of Hagerstown Neighborhood Partnership Inc., replied, replied, "I'm not going to comment on it."

Hagerstown Neighborhood Partnership, commonly referred to as the community development corporation, is a nonprofit organization designed to spur redevelopment projects in Hagerstown.

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Phoebus also is on a number of other local boards. When he was asked in what capacity he was attending the meeting Thursday, he said he was there as "a citizen."

Asked why he was meeting Thursday with Snook and Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner, among others, he replied, "we talk often."

Landes also was mum.

"I have no comment for you," Landes said.

Breichner said he had "no comment. You'll have to talk to someone else. ... I'm not going to comment."

County Commissioner James F. Kercheval said that those at the meeting were people who wanted to work with the community development corporation on a project.

He said he was invited to the meeting and was asked not to speak about the topic of the meeting. He would not say who asked him not to talk about the discussion.

Art Callaham, Greater Hagerstown Committee president, also was at the meeting, and also declined to talk about what was talked about.

Reached by phone, Callaham said he was "just an observer" and the meeting was "a private meeting" about "nothing that I can share publicly." He referred questions to City Planning Director Kathleen Maher, who was at the meeting.

Maher, reached at her office, said those who met "were in the early stages of discussion for a potential project" for Phoebus' group. "At this point, that's all I can say."

Maher referred other questions to Phoebus. A call to Phoebus' work phone was not returned.

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