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Sharpsburg council expresses concerns over commercialization

March 07, 2006|by TARA REILLY

SHARPSBURG

Sharpsburg Town Council members said Monday they were hesitant to pledge support for a Civil War heritage plan geared toward attracting tourism for fear that the small, historic town would become too commercial.

"The town is trying not to become commercialized as a Civil War site ... like Gettysburg ...," Town Attorney Charles Wagaman Jr. said.

Antietam National Battlefield and Antietam National Cemetery are just outside Sharpburg's town limits.

Steve Goodrich, of Washington County's Planning Department, asked the Town Council to approve a resolution in support of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area's management plan.

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A goal of the plan is to encourage Civil War tourism in Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties, which he said would boost economic development.

"It places no obligation and no burden on the town whatsoever," Goodrich said.

Goodrich said he is asking municipalities in the county for their support and to consider referencing the plan in their comprehensive plans, which would make the municipalities eligible for state funding.

Goodrich said state funding would be available to nonprofit groups, local governments and some private property owners.

The Civil War Heritage Area is soon to become a certified area of the Maryland Heritage Areas Program, according to the Web site www.heartofthecivilwar.org.

Vice Mayor Ralph Hammond said that "no matter how hard we try to preserve the town," there's always somebody trying to ruin it.

Councilwoman Patti Hammond said the town's attorney should review the entire plan before the council considers discussing it.

She also said places in Frederick County, Md., were having a hard time supporting the plan.

"This is not the only way they can get money," she said.

Goodrich said he understood Sharpsburg's concerns. He said the council has "the town the way you like it, and you want to protect it. That makes perfect sense to me."

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