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Council needs to encourage Deming plan for music event

August 17, 2006

Mike Deming, president of a development company that has purchased a number of properties in downtown Hagerstown, this week told the City Council he would like to hold a music festival on South Potomac Street on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Other than seeking the council's permission to close off one block of the street, Deming did not ask for any city funds. But despite Deming's investment in downtown, most council members did not give it a rousing endorsement.

That's a mistake. It's possible to disagree on some of the details, such as whether an exception should be made to allow hard liquor on the street despite the city's ban on open containers of alcohol.

But that's a detail, not a deal-breaker. The council needs to give such proposals a resounding endorsement, then work to see what will or won't be possible during such an event. As it happens, we agree with members of the council who noted that while beer has been allowed at events such as the Blues Fest and Augustoberfest, hard liquor has not.

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Our suggestion: Those who want to have a cocktail during this event should go into one of the establishments downtown that serve them, consume the beverage and then return to the festivities.

That problem will be easier to solve that the one presented by the calendar. October is less than three months away; to publicize this and get the event onto the various tourism-related calendars will require someone to do some hard work, and quickly.

All of that said, the city council ought to be jumping in to help an entrepreneur who has committed major dollars to an investment that is by no means a sure thing.

A little help and encouragement from the city would go a long way toward encouraging others to invest in downtown.

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