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A good first step

July 13, 2009

Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman and his administrative team should be commended for presenting a number of creative ideas to Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and the Hagerstown City Council on July 8 that, if enacted, could keep the development ball rolling in the downtown area.

Some of the suggestions were aimed at developers: Providing financial incentives, cutting red tape or easing building code restrictions. A few targeted would-be businesses by providing tax incentives and other perks for them to locate in renovated office space.

Given the economic downturn, the city is taking the right steps to continue the redevelopment momentum in the downtown area, especially in the Arts and Entertainment District. Risk-taking developers should be given some incentive to put their faith and investments there.

The council seemed to back the plan, to the point it might be approved in August, Zimmerman said after the meeting.

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While the proposals would be good for downtown, they might signal a more important sea change in the governance of our city.

With a new council in place, the city's administrative staff appears emboldened to offer ideas. The new council appears eager to hear them, vet them and then move forward with the good ones.

These are good signs for the city, its residents and Hagerstown's direction under the new council.

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