Group brainstorms ideas to reinvigorate downtown

April 21, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN - Just bring the people downtown and everything else will fall into place.

That seems to be the philosophy of members of Destination Hagerstown, who have plenty of ideas for their city and the area downtown.

Business leaders and city officials kept coming back to one thing Wednesday night - pedestrian traffic.

"When you start getting things accomplished and people start seeing the change, they'll want to participate," said Valerie Minteer, owner of Cloak & Cupboard Antiques at 20 Public Square. "People will start to recognize the changes and what's going on."

The group, which meets the third Wednesday of each month, has gathered about seven times since last fall. Destination Hagerstown, a name the group established last month along with its mission and vision statements, is developing several ideas including a monthly flea market and holding promotional events on the weekends to attract new shoppers.


The ideas are geared toward reinvigorating the downtown area, introducing new residents to stores and seeking a second chance from older residents who may have written off downtown for its problems.

"There are so many people that just ride through town ... and they're not necessarily looking at the businesses," said Deborah Everhart, director of economic development for the city. "I think the more positive things that start happening, the more people will talk about it, and the more people will want to give the downtown another chance."

Following the meeting, Minteer said downtown is changing for the better, though it has not yet shed the negative reputation many people still hold of it.

"We've heard the feedback that people are scared to come downtown, and they don't think it's safe, and that there are vagabonds on the streets ... but that's not true, and it definitely won't be true in the future because there's a lot of things going on," she said. "We're all collectively working toward the same goal, and it's a lot easier to band together than to try to get things done individually."

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