Online chat with Kristin Aleshire

September 11, 2005

Name: Patty

Question: I was wondering, once the hospital vacates its current location, what will happen to the building it currently houses? Will the burden be placed on the city to raze the property or will the hospital be responsible for razing it? If it is kept, what will be its use? I see it as a possible burden for the city and residents.

Aleshire: It is currently in the hospital's financial plans for relocation to Robinwood to raze their existing site. The city will bear no part of this cost.

Name: Brenda

Location: Hancock

Question: An advisory board was recently formed in regards to Holly Place continued funding. What, if anything, has this group done? I haven't seen anything in The Herald-Mail to indicate that they have even had a meeting. Holly Place does not have all the time in the world to raise the much needed money to operate.


Aleshire: I think the advisory board was created through the efforts of the local state legislators and the current board that oversees Holly Place. This question would better be directed to those entities. Both the city and county came up with emergency funds within their current budgets to assist in this effort due to the time crunch.

Moderator: After your council victory, you referred to the large expenditures made by some of your opponents and said that "Money is a very, very poor substitute for intelligence." What did you mean by that?

Aleshire: The word that I should have chosen was "knowledge," because it became apparent during the campaign process that others involved appeared to be using the effect of money to get a message out there to the public without actually taking the time to really research the issues.

Name: Carrie

Location: Marion, Pa.

Question: I live in Pennsylvania, but work in Hagerstown with the homeless. Your colleague, Penny Nigh, has been quite outspoken about her views on the homeless in our community. I wonder if you share the same views as Ms. Nigh, particularly her feeling that our community is a magnet for homeless persons due to services available. Do you feel that the city should stop giving money to such organizations as REACH?

Aleshire: City money included in our annual budget is a small part of the overall city budget. Therefore, I do not feel that it's appropriate to remove any beneficial group from that part of the budget. However, I share similar views with Ms. Nigh to the degree that locally funded services should directly benefit locally affected people first. I believe that there was an article in The Herald approximately a year and a half ago that accentuated the point of an influx of homeless to the area from other areas because of the number of services offered in this community.

Moderator: The 2-plus-2 committee, made up of two council members and two county commissioners, has been meeting for some time now. What is the most important agreement to come out of those meetings?

Aleshire: I think that the most important agreement thus far has been our ability to simply communicate with one another. This has allowed us to move forward with mutually beneficial objectives such as the recently enacted excise tax for all new growth, our current discussion on providing the hospital with sewer capacity and a mutual understanding of APFO (adequate public facilities ordinance) issues as they relate to affecting school capacity.

Moderator: Now that Washington County has agreed to take the lead on Washington County Hospital's proposed move to Robinwood, what will the city's role be?

Aleshire: To my knowledge, no group or governing entity has appeared to have taken the lead on this issue to date. This is reflected in the fact that zoning has yet to be applied for. As I have stated from the beginning, the city's role is and will continue to be ensuring that, as with any developer, the hospital be responsible for the costs of its impacts on infrastructure at whichever location they choose to build.

Moderator: Without an efficiently functioning sewer system, efforts to encourage development within the Urban Growth Area will be difficult. Is the city's system on its way to being fixed?

Aleshire: The system is well on its way to necessary improvements. This issue has a much longer history and is much broader in context than simply the failure of electrical equipment and inflow and infiltration problems. This would include negligence in the past on the part of city government, county approvals and lack of state oversight. Fortunately, at this point, prior to all of the development currently in the pipeline actually being built, we are forcing one another to address this problem together. This effort cannot be undermined by lawsuits from developers, by absence of state regulatory demands, nor by the city or county embracing new growth with a blind eye to the effects it has on such infrastructure.

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