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Letters to the editor

April 26, 2005

A chance to work things out


To the editor:

Perhaps the town of Williamsport's dispute with former Mayor John Slayman over the art print could have been resolved with mediation. The State of Maryland has put funding and resources into creating and assisting local community mediation centers.

Washington County has such a program: The Washington County Community Mediation Center (www.wccmc.org). The center is in its third year of operation and working hard to make sure that residents and organizations in Washington County know of this service.

Mediation is confidential, voluntary and free. Our mediators are trained through the state program and are neutral. Anyone looking for a win-win solution in a dispute with a family member, neighbor, friend, business, landlord or tenant, for example, might consider taking advantage of WCCMC's services.

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WCCMC could possibly have been of help to Mayor Slayman and the town of Williamsport. The center can draw upon very experienced mediators across the state, if necessary. Coming to the mediation table is itself an act of goodwill toward the other side.

Nancy Hutchins
Board Member, WCCMC
Sharpsburg




Reuse is the answer


To the editor:

There's much reason to celebrate the revitalization of the Commerce Corridor brownfields plot, a swath of former industrial properties that straddles Charles Town and Ranson, W.Va. This strip of ignored land, which has remained dormant for years, is not only a community eyesore, but also represents an enormous lost opportunity if left untouched.

Working with private developers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute, the governments of Charles Town and Ranson have created a vision for the previous industrial wasteland.

It promises an economic rebirth, bringing retail, restaurants, a movie house, and - perhaps most importantly - new jobs to the area.

This mammoth cooperative undertaking among public and private partners represents the inner-circle development of existing real estate that can bring vivacity and new life to our downtown district.

It will preserve farms and open space from unwanted development, thus beautifying and restoring what we already possess. In other words, instead of paving over more and more pristine land, let's make the best use of what's in front of us.

Don't believe those who advocate a "miracle mile" of big-box development on the fringe of town as the only way to grow our tax base. Instead, let's support the creativity that fuels smart economic development and celebrate the potential it brings to our region. I am running for Charles Town City Council in order to see these innovative projects through to completion.

Relying upon our own initiative and learning from the lessons of others can help us to create a healthy, livable community, enhancing what makes Charles Town a unique place to live, work and play.

Doug Vaira
Charles Town, W.Va.




Give seniors a break


To the editor:

Ouch! Being a senior citizen on a fixed income in Hagerstown and Washington County isn't easy. In fact, it's downright tough - and getting tougher all the time. Start off with the increasing real estate assessments and coming giant rise in taxes.

As it now stands, taxes on our homes will go up at least 30 percent over the next three years with no meaningful growth in most retiree incomes. Where does that leave us?

How about the escalating cost of owning and driving a car? Maryland registration renewals have nearly doubled and we all know where gasoline prices are heading. Add inflation to the mix and our future isn't too bright. Solutions? Maybe.

On real estate taxes, how about a form of deferred payment for those of us 65 and beyond? Realistically, if we're over 65, how many more years will we own our homes? When we sell, these deferred taxes or a portion could be collected from the sale proceeds. I say a portion, because another portion could be forgiven for seniors who have owned their homes and payed taxes for many years.

On driving, is it possible our state legislators could offer a reduced registration for seniors who often drive far less than younger citizens?

In short, there are solutions out there, if our elected officials will only search for them.

Howard Mendelsohn
Hagerstown

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