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Wheaton wall replacement mulled

January 10, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

The Hagerstown City Council, for another year, will hold on to the option of replacing Wheaton Park's stone wall, which the community initially supported tearing down.

"It was a stone wall that was removed in the '90s due to some drug trafficking," Parks and Recreation Director Junior Mason said during Tuesday's City Council work session.

The beauty of the park has depreciated because of the wall's removal, and the community wants it back, Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said.

Replacement of the wall would cost approximately $52,500, according to Mason.

Officials said the wall's replacement has been listed as a capital improvements project and can be pushed into next year's budget. Some members of the council said it might be a good idea to consider other ways to beautify the park without replacing the wall.

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Parson-McBean contended that the wall was never the actual problem, arguing that drug traffickers remain in the park. She also said that residents in the area were told the wall would be replaced if criminal activity didn't subside.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said that "eight years ago, a difference was made" when the wall was disassembled, trees were trimmed and visibility was improved at the park. However, Parson-McBean responded that "nothing has changed" and that there are more gunshots now.

Crime "is no longer on the wall because there is no wall. It's in the enclave of the baseball diamond ... and in front of the houses," Parson-McBean said.

Longtime residents of the area appreciated the wall; newer residents were the ones who abused it, according to Parson-McBean.

"As we go to adopt the budget, I think what we need to do is hold a meeting in that community," Bruchey said.

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