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Sidewalk widening project approved by Hagerstown City Council

October 24, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday narrowly approved a construction project to widen the sidewalks in the first block of South Potomac Street.

The $455,000 project passed 3-2. Councilwomen Penny M. Nigh and Alesia Parson-McBean cast the dissenting votes.

Nigh said the tax dollars that will be used to complete the project should have been allocated to help private residents repair their sidewalks, rather than wealthy downtown business owners.

"Why is it necessary for the taxpayers to take the burden of doing these sidewalks?" she said.

Parson-McBean suggested that the city shouldn't be in a hurry to widen the sidewalks. She said it would be more prudent to let new businesses downtown get established before widening the sidewalks.

Early in the debate, Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said she had mixed feelings about the project.

On one hand, Cromer said widened sidewalks would enhance downtown and improve the quality of life for residents, but she would like to see downtown business owners pay more than the agreed-upon $35,000 of the total cost.

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Councilman Martin Brubaker said the council should get the project under way or risk losing grant money that already has been awarded by the state.

The project involves widening the first block of South Potomac Street from about mid-block to Antietam Street, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

Bond financing would account for about $235,000 of the cost, Tissue said earlier this month. The remaining $220,000 would come from state grants and donations from downtown business owners.

Tissue said the project could start as early as November and, depending on the weather, take about three months to complete.

According to city documents, the project was introduced to beautify downtown.

Hagerstown resident Cathy Ridenour said after the meeting that only Nigh and Parson-McBean followed their constituents' wishes by voting against the project.

"I hope this is remembered around election time," she said.

Milton Stamper Builders of Hagerstown was awarded the contract.

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