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City developing 'legacy' of goals

August 31, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council's lengthy wish list includes updating a comprehensive plan, preparing a new subdivision ordinance and examining employee compensation.

There's no deadline to the 80-plus ideas on the list - which the City Council discussed Tuesday during a meeting devoted to setting goals - but many projects are under way or expected to be soon.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman told the council it was "developing what you'd like to see as your legacy for Hagerstown."

Offering affordable housing is listed under "Community Revitalization."

Designing a utility upgrade and streetscape project on Jonathan Street is in the "City Buildings, Facilities and Infrastructure" category.

Under "Downtown and Economic Development," one item is helping Washington County Free Library expand and upgrade its downtown branch.

Kathleen Maher, the city's planning director, told the council the city needs to keep up with local growth.

"By not annexing [from 1950 to 2000], Hagerstown did not capture new population, new property tax revenue, or new income tax revenue," a written summary Maher gave the City Council says.

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Hagerstown's median family income and percentage of owner-occupied housing units in 2000 are much lower than in the suburbs, the summary says.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the city can't ignore the other side. Growth expands the tax base, but it also strains essential services, such as police and fire protection, he said.

Metzner said he once considered it a dream to have train service extend west into Washington County. Now, he considers it a nightmare, he said.

"I've often said, 'If you think Frederick is so great, go move there,'" Metzner said.

Except for philosophical debates about planning issues, council members concentrated on making their wish list complete.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire suggested a master plan for water and sewer service and uniform downtown parking signs.

Metzner recommended a tour for council members, Mayor Richard F. Trump and others to see "the good, the bad and the ugly" among properties and houses in the city.

Zimmerman said the city might rent an Atlantic Coast Trailways bus to accommodate everyone who would ride along.

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh questioned one goal under the heading of "Livable City Program": completing a plaza at Municipal Stadium, where the Hagerstown Suns play. She said the Suns' owner, Mandalay Sports Entertainment, hopes to build a new stadium, so it's senseless to make improvements to the current one.

Metzner said a new stadium is far from certain.

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