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Committee pays visit to delegation

February 24, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Business and community leaders on Wednesday reminded members of the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly that they're watching several local issues closely - and they want to make sure delegation members are watching out for them too.

The Greater Hagerstown Committee traveled to Annapolis for a breakfast meeting with the delegation and updated the legislators on developments back home.

Richard Phoebus told the delegation that the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership plans to develop 30 moderate- to higher-income housing units at the former Massey property on East Baltimore Street, and that a report on potential development in the city's east end is in the works. Phoebus said more than $100,000 in private funds had been raised for the Baltimore Street project, and more than $70,000 for the east end project. He said he anticipated that a plan for potential east end redevelopment projects should be completed in two to three weeks.

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He said potential projects could include construction of a convention exhibit center in the vicinity of Dual Highway hotels, and improvements to Municipal Stadium.

Phoebus said east end redevelopment could be a 10- to 20-year project, requiring an investment of millions of dollars - some of which might be solicited from state sources.

The partnership also is looking at developing townhouses in the Jonathan Street area, he said.

He said the partnership likely would merge with Community Housing Resources (The Home Store) by the end of June.

Greater Hagerstown Committee members reiterated their legislative priorities, including:

-- Aid to education - committee member Gaye McGovern asked the delegation to "do anything you can do to keep that University (System of Maryland) center going." She also reminded them of the capital needs of the Washington County Schools.

Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri said HCC needs money for capital projects, including renovation of the Career Programs building, as well as operating money it gets through a state formula for community colleges. He also lobbied for money to aid students with disabilities.

-- Transportation - Committee member Anton Dahbura asked whether state money would be available for improvements to Interstate 81 and other "traffic hotspots" emerging in Washington County. The committee also wanted to know whether tolls would be charged on I-81.

"There's not gonna be any toll on 81 as long as I'm your senator and the governor's the governor," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington. Asked if there would be any improvements on the interstate, Munson replied "that's another issue."

Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank said the state would "continue to concentrate on spot safety improvements" to I-81. He said improvements planned on U.S. 40 at Edgewood Drive are more immediately important to economic development in the county.

-- Excise tax - Committee members expressed concerns about the proposed flat fee tax on new development, which would be earmarked for school construction, roads, public safety, libraries and parks.

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