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Hagerstown likely to expand North Potomac Street project

June 08, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council will likely expand the North Potomac Street renovation project to use all of the allocated state and federal aid.

The low project bid came in $78,000 under budget last month, giving the city the choice to either spend less or do more.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue presented the council with five project add-ons Tuesday that would use the remaining money.

A total of $211,527 in public aid is available for the project, Tissue said.

The aid is a mix of a matching $100,000 Maryland Heritage Area Grant, $85,240 of state aid and $26,287 of a Community Development Block Grant.

If any portion of the allocation is not spent, it is returned, Councilman Martin Brubaker said.

Brubaker pointed out that the city will not use any taxpayer dollars for the project.

The original project included installing brick sidewalks in the unit block of North Potomac Street.

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It also included creating two cafe areas along the street, improving landscaping and enhancing the bike alcove at the North Potomac Street parking deck.

To use the bulk of the remaining $78,000, staff suggested milling and repaving North Potomac Street to match the decorative paving on South Potomac Street, Tissue wrote in a memo to the council.

The paving would be similar to South Potomac Street without the music notes or drama masks, he wrote.

Staff also suggested working with students from the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts to add artwork in the bike alcove.

Previously, staff suggested adding a mural in the bike alcove.

Advised that murals can indicate urban decay, Councilwoman Ashley Haywood suggested enhancing the alcove with something less stigmatized.

Discussions with the art school led Tissue to believe the art in the alcove would be a rotating display, he said.

Replacing the awning on the Visitor Center, repaving and add building-mounted lights on an alley which runs from North Potomac Street to the intersection alley near the University System of Maryland, and using LED bulbs to light the alley also were suggested by staff, according to Tissue's memo.

Councilman Lewis Metzner questioned keeping the alley open to vehicle traffic.

"It would really behoove us to seriously consider closing that (alley) to vehicular traffic," he said. "What we are trying to do on North and South Potomac is to increase the pedestrian friendliness. That (alley) is not really pedestrian friendly."

Councilman William Breichner asked Tissue to have staff talk to the businesses along that alley about closing it to vehicles.

If the council votes to expand the project, the five add-ons will spend the remaining $78,000, Tissue said.

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