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What's wrong with this picture?

September 06, 2009

Editor's note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.

We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

The problem: A set of metal cellar doors in the sidewalk in front of 29 W. Antietam St. is rusted, bowed and strewn with holes, making some pedestrians hesitant to step on them.

Section 216-13 of Hagerstown City Code requires cellar doors to be kept in good repair and says that they should be "flush with adjoining sidewalk and shall not deflect under the weight of pedestrians when closed."

Who could fix it: John Lestitian, Chief Code Compliance Inspector for the City of Hagerstown, said it is the responsibility of property owners to make sure their doors are in good repair and not in violation of the city code.

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The West Antietam Street property is owned by Lohr Building LLC, which is part of Demcore Development.

What they say: Lestitian said an inspector checked out the doors and found they were sturdy, although there was a technical violation because the bow of the doors has caused the edges to stick up slightly from the sidewalk.

"They have some give to them in terms of how they have been bent, and it's convex, but one door overlaps the other, and it's not that someone's going to fall through them," he said.

In addition, the doors were not locked when the inspector checked them Thursday, but the owner secured them later that day, Lestitian said.

Mike Deming, president of Demcore Development, said the company had contacted a concrete company that would see what could be done to shore up the door, along with one other that needs attention.

Lestitian said that because the technical violation is not a hazard, the city would give the owner some time to fix it before taking further action.

Following up: Several readers responded to last week's column about broken, misplaced headstones at Funkstown Cemetery with suggestions that the stones could be put back in order with the help of "Washington County Cemetery Records," a book compiled in the late 1930s by Samuel Webster Piper, who walked the county's cemeteries and listed the inscriptions in order.

John Frye said the Western Maryland Room at Washington County Free Library has a copy of the book, which includes the Funkstown Cemetery.

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:

What's Wrong With This Picture

c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom

100 Summit Ave.

Hagerstown MD 21740

You can e-mail the information to lindad@herald-mail.com.

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