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Chamber makes its case for third parking deck in Hagerstown

November 15, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce is recommending the City of Hagerstown move toward construction of a third parking deck in the downtown to aid in development and make it easier for people to visit the downtown.

"There are a lot of commercial and residential opportunities where lack of parking is an impediment," Chamber President Brien J. Poffenberger said Friday.

The Chamber wants to take advantage of an offer by The Columbia Bank, Hagerstown Trust Division, to negotiate with the city to develop the parking lot behind its West Washington Street branch for a parking deck, Poffenberger said.

The proposed parking deck would provide parking for the southwest quadrant of the city's downtown, which runs from the south side of West Washington Street (U.S. 40) to the east side of South Potomac Street, and includes all areas in between.

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A January 2009 survey of parking needs by the Hagerstown Planning Department lists The Maryland Theatre, Washington County District and Circuit Courts, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts and Susquehanna Bank as being among the businesses in that quadrant.

Shelby Penn of the Chamber's Downtown Task Force discussed the matter at the Nov. 3 City Council meeting and the Chamber was given the go-ahead to create a feasibility study for parking at that site.

The estimated $25,000 cost of a feasibility and preliminary construction analysis would be shared by the city, county and businesses, Penn said at the Nov. 3 meeting.

Penn said she has received eight letters of support from downtown businesses. She hasn't gotten financial commitments because it's unclear what costs will be involved, she said Friday.

"We're just really trying to forge some partnerships to continue with the revitalization of downtown," Penn said.

As it now stands, if a building was to be developed with condos and businesses, there's nowhere for those using the buildings to park in that quadrant, she said.

"Even occupied buildings in the quadrant, there may be a higher and better use that is being prevented by lack of parking," Poffenberger said.

A timeline for the parking deck is unclear at this point.

"If we got this done in three years, we would be very lucky," Penn said.

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