Potomac Street sidewalk project set to begin Saturday

November 02, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

A project to widen both sides of the sidewalk in the first block of South Potomac Street in Hagerstown will begin Saturday.

The Hagerstown Engineering & Inspections Department made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Earlier that day, City Engineer Rodney Tissue discussed the issue during a public meeting at Duffy's on Potomac restaurant.

His presentation caused mixed reaction among a handful of downtown business owners who attended.

Valerie Minteer, owner of Bones & Cones Dessertery at 2 S. Potomac St., said the city's plan to work on the sidewalk at this time of year would deter people from doing their Christmas shopping downtown.

"It's already tough (doing business downtown) as it is," she said to an audience of about 20 people. "That's the worst time."


Tissue told Minteer that the city is ready to move forward with the project and should proceed right away to get it done.

Workers will widen small pieces of the sidewalk at a time to make the project flow as smoothly as possible, he said. Depending on the weather, the major work should take about three months to complete.

Regardless, Minteer said construction would keep shoppers away.

Tissue responded by saying the city would initiate an advertising campaign in the local media to ensure that shoppers know the downtown will remain open for business.

After the meeting, Minteer said she isn't against the project and believes the city is doing what it can to work with business owners on South Potomac Street.

"It's the time frame they're doing it," she said. "It's going to have a (financial) impact on this corridor."

Mike Deming, owner of Duffy's on Potomac and 43 South, another restaurant on South Potomac Street, said he agreed that construction would affect his businesses.

"But the job has to be done," he said.

In addition to widening the sidewalks, the $455,000 project includes milling and repaving that portion of South Potomac Street, Tissue said. The asphalt will incorporate red stone, meaning the road will turn red, rather than gray, as it wears.

The first stage of the project will involve removing trees from the sidewalk and moving two 30-foot light poles, he said. The final stage of the project calls for sidewalk work in front of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts and won't be addressed until the facade on that building is finished in the fall of 2008.

On Oct. 23, the Hagerstown City Council voted 3-2 to approve the project. Councilwomen Penny M. Nigh and Alesia Parson-McBean cast the dissenting votes. At the time, Nigh said the money could be put to better use helping private residents improve their sidewalks, rather than wealthy downtown business owners.

Milton Stamper Builders of Hagerstown was awarded the contract.

Bond financing will account for about $235,000 of the project's cost, Tissue said last month. The remaining $220,000 will come from state grants and donations from downtown business owners.

Sidewalk project plan

The Hagerstown Engineering & Inspections Department said vehicular and pedestrian traffic along the first block of South Potomac Street will be maintained as much as possible during construction, and emergency vehicles will be able to pass through the work zone.

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