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City Council divided on sidewalk project

February 21, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

A proposed sidewalk-widening project in the first block of South Potomac Street met resistance Tuesday evening from some members of the City Council, who said the construction would impede the travel of safety vehicles.

Before it gives approval to widen the sidewalks on South Potomac Street between Antietam and Washington streets, the council told City Engineer Rodney Tissue to research the project further with the heads of Hagerstown's ambulance, fire and police services.

"They have got to be players ... They have got to be able to talk to (the council)," Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said. "There are safety issues - and I'm telling you major issues."

The estimated $750,000 plan also includes adding curbing and lights, according to a memorandum that Tissue provided the council. About six on-street parking spaces would be lost to accommodate widening the sidewalks.

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If the council approves, the memorandum said Tissue would have to develop a plan to fund the construction, which ideally would begin this fall and end in 2008.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said there is $125,000 in the existing budget that could be used toward a downtown project of this nature.

Rather than have the work done in several phases, the city is proposing to complete everything at once to minimize disruptions, he said.

Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean said she could not support the proposal until she gets the community's input.

Councilmen Martin Brubaker and Lewis C. Metzner said they thought the proposal was a good idea.

"I would recommend we do it all at once ... I'm not at all disapproving of this concept," Metzner said.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said she favored the plan, but had a lot of questions, including the alternate routes that emergency vehicles would use during construction.

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