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City's location might bring in project grants

March 14, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN

Outdoor dining along South Potomac Street could be in the cards for the Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant in Hagerstown, but owner Charles Sekula is not looking at the prospect as a significant revenue producer for his business.

"It's not a matter of expanding my seating capacity," he said. "It's more of a plus with making the Arts and Entertainment District more dynamic."

The City of Hagerstown is considering widening the sidewalk along the east side of South Potomac Street, which would provide room for Schmankerl Stube to provide outdoor seating. The city council is scheduled to meet today to discuss the project and four others as part of a package of Maryland Heritage Area Authority grant requests.

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Schmankerl Stube, at 58 South Potomac St., has outdoor seating to the rear of the restaurant, and Sekula said with a wider sidewalk he would like to have tables in front of the restaurant.

Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties are in what is called the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, and organizers involved in the project have said they expect the Maryland Heritage Area Authority will certify the area this spring. Once it becomes certified, communities including Hagerstown will become eligible for grant funding.

The sidewalk project is estimated to cost $200,000, of which the city would seek $100,000 in grant funding. Hagerstown Planning Director Kathleen A. Maher said the widening would extend from Antietam Street to 28 S. Potomac St., just short of the Faith Chapel at 14 S. Potomac Street and the Snow White Grill beyond it at 12 S. Potomac St.

Other projects include enhancements to the alley connecting South Potomac Street to the city's Arts and Entertainment District parking deck, new banners attached to light poles downtown, plaques highlighting historical events and buildings, and directional signs pointing to shops, restaurants and other sites.

The city has talked with the Washington County Board of Education and the First Hose Volunteer Fire Co. about the possibility of separate grant requests. Maher said the school system could be eligible for money to renovate 7-11 S. Potomac St., where it is planning to establish the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. She said the fire company could seek funds to convert space at 31 S. Potomac St. into a firefighters' museum.

Justin Mayhue, a captain with the Hagerstown Fire Department, said the museum would highlight not just old fire equipment but also the heritage of each of the city's fire companies and the evolution of firefighting in Hagerstown.

"It's important for people to know where we came from; it's important for people to know how firefighting was conducted," he said.

The city and other organizations have until March 22 to submit applications to the Washington County Planning Department. The planning department will send them to the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Steering Committee, which will review and prioritize applications before passing them to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority by an April 3 deadline for grant funding.

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