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Hagerstown Council debates merits of Downtown Live

October 23, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN ? Members of the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday debated whether last weekend's Downtown Live music festival was beneficial to the community.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said the event, which was held Saturday in the first block of South Potomac Street and featured several live bands, resulted in 21 arrests that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

Nigh and Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean agreed that the event spawned drunken behavior.

Besides buying beer from street vendors, festival-goers had the opportunity to leave Downtown Live's fenced-in perimeter and re-enter after visiting bars on South Potomac Street.

Parson-McBean said she attended the festival with Nigh and they were followed around by Downtown Live staff members who were trying to ensure attendees didn't get out of hand in front of city council members.

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The majority of the council and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, however, said the event seemed positive for the city.

Although Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said she did not attend the event, the Hagerstown Police Department reported closer to 16 arrests were made. Of those arrests, only one was made within the perimeter of the festival, she said.

Before the council meeting, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith told The Herald-Mail that about 15 people were arrested in the area of the festival. Smith said he could not give exact figures because he had not seen all of the police reports from Saturday.

Cromer said an estimated 5,000 people attended Downtown Live.

"To only have one person arrested was outstanding," she said.

Cromer, Bruchey and Councilman Martin Brubaker said downtown businesses did well Saturday from the crowd that Downtown Live brought to the city.

"Some things could have been better, but things could have been a lot worse," Bruchey said.

City resident Louise Dawson told the council Downtown Live was loud and suggested that residents should have a chance to vote on whether to hold the event in the future.

Other audience members spoke for and against the event.

After the meeting, Toni Britton, director of marketing & events for DEMCORE entertainment, the promoter of Downtown Live, presented several e-mails that praised the event.

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