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City officials prepare to open new parking deck to the public

October 11, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN - The new Arts & Entertainment District Parking Deck has been serving select customers for more than a month as the City of Hagerstown tests the fully automated payment system.

"You'll be able to put a credit card in and pay that way," City Engineer Rodney A. Tissue said. It will also accept cash and prepaid cards, he said.

Tissue said that the city is "very, very close" to opening the five-level deck to the public. It will have 188 spaces and 20 security cameras.

"It's allowed redevelopment in our Arts & Entertainment District to have safe and convenient parking," Tissue said. It allows for "bona fide businesses" that can now provide parking to customers and employees, he said.

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The city's expenditures for the structure totaled $3.1 million and Bowman Development Corp. of Williamsport contributed, according to Tissue.

Crews from Bowman Development Corp. had to avoid damaging nearby masonry buildings when they prepared foundations for the deck, he said.

While working at the rear of the deck at 32 S. Potomac St., crews found 15 feet of solid bedrock. In the front, they found no rock for 80 feet, Tissue said.

Good communication with nearby property owners kept the project moving at a steady pace, Tissue said. Work started in March 2005.

That communication also translated into improved access to the Masonic Temple.

"Our elevator has a rear door that goes into their ballroom and made it handicapped accessible," Tissue said.

In the parking deck, the equipment for the automated system has been installed in the past two months, but glitches remain with the credit card reader. Those are expected to be remedied today, Tissue said.

"I've had some people going through with me and say, 'That's the nicest parking deck I've ever seen,'" Tissue said.

Tissue is confident that Cramers Avenue will be converted into a two-way street in the next five years to provide for improved access to the parking deck.

People accessing the deck will use alleys. They'll be able to enter from Washington and Locust streets and exit to Antietam and Locust streets.

The other city-owned parking deck, which opened in the 1980s, has 441 spaces, Tissue said.

A city employee will walk each deck daily to check for problems, Tissue said.

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