Hagerstown City Council briefs

June 15, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

Police recognized for recertification

Following its initial accreditation in 1994, the Hagerstown City Police Department was recognized for its March 26 recertification during the city council's work session Tuesday night.

"You should be very proud of your police department," said Jim Robey, member of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. "This is your fourth award. You should be very, very proud of that."

Accredited police departments are re-evaluated every three or four years and must meet specific criteria in order to be recertified as accredited agencies.

Council to decide on complex upgrades

The Hagerstown City Council will decide Tuesday whether to facilitate planned improvements to the Washington Gardens housing complex, though council members and Mayor Richard F. Trump are divided about the benefit to the city.


Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc. bought Washington Gardens in October 2004 and is hoping for tax-exempt financing through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to fund improvements, including better lighting and security systems.

In order to qualify for the loan, the ownership group needs a letter of support from the city.

"The real difference that this will make will be in the level of improvements that we're able to make at the property," said Rodger Brown, representing the group. Brown said the group is committed to improving the facility even without the city's assistance, though without help in securing the $2 million financing, the group only will be able to afford $170,000 in repairs.

"This is safety-net housing," Trump said. "It's housing that the community needs."

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh disputed the claim, arguing residents are moving into Washington County and displacing low-income residents who would benefit from residency in Washington Gardens.

"What percentage do we have that have come from places like Montgomery County?" Nigh asked. "We are not taking care of our own citizens ... and this is becoming more and more of a problem for Hagerstown."

Cromer questions city plan to buy SUV

As the price of gasoline continues to rise at pumps across the nation, it was just a little tough for Hagerstown City Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer to accept the city's plans to spend $18,049 for a 2005 Jeep Liberty from Hertrich Fleet Services Inc. of Denton, Md.

"Why, with the prices of gasoline, would you be purchasing an SUV?" Cromer asked during the council's work session Tuesday. "Why can't you get a less expensive automobile?"

Larry Bayer, manager of the city's community development department, said his department needed the Liberty to replace a Ford Tempo that was not capable of going off-road or carrying between three and four adults in addition to equipment such as ladders to perform building inspections.

"There is some need from time to time, when they're doing that, to go off-road," he said.

"How were you doing all those things," with the Tempo, Cromer asked.

"We weren't," Bayer said.

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