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Hagerstown officials consider uses for unspent bond funds

September 13, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Several Hagerstown projects came in under budget, were not undertaken or were financed through alternative sources, leaving the city with more than $1.4 million in unspent 2009 bond proceeds to reallocate before 2012.

City Finance Director Michelle Burker said there is an informal deadline of 2012 to use the money.

Hagerstown’s bond counsel, Lindsey Rader, has advised the city to spend what remains of the original $18 million bond issue before 2012, Burker said.

Burker presented the council with a list of projects previously approved for bond proceeds, including the Digby parking lot at City Park, Fairgrounds Park improvements and renovations to the new Antietam Fire Co. — and a list of recommended projects for the remaining money.

The city staff’s recommended projects were:
• $131,000 for pavement preservation
• $200,000 for curb and sidewalk repair on South Prospect Street
• $40,000 for city golf-course clubhouse improvements
• $190,000 for creating a pocket park in the northeast portion of the city
• $310,000 for either additional work along South Prospect Street or renovations to the Roslyn Building on Franklin Street to create residential units.

The council Tuesday agreed to reprogram $131,000 of the unspent bond proceeds for road repair.

Bids for pavement preservation exceeded budgeted amounts, and the city planned to postpone paving certain streets to stay within the $620,000 authorized by the council in June.

The reprogrammed bond proceeds will allow the city to repair all the roads originally planned for this year, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

Burker said members of the Historic Heights Neighborhoods 1st group would like to discuss the South Prospect Street project with the council and Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II during its Oct. 4 work session.

It is possible that the desired scope of the project could exceed what has already been planned for the project, she said.  

The northeast pocket park is an idea that came out of a 2005 survey in that area of the city, said John Lestitian, city director of Community and Economic Development.

In the survey, residents asked for more parking, green space and areas for children to play, he said.

Lestitian said the park would be created by purchasing and demolishing approximately five substandard residential units, which would reduce the number of required parking spaces, increase green space and give children a place to play.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the council will first need to discuss the properties in executive session and meet with the Historic Heights group before deciding on the park.

The council will continue to discuss uses for the bond proceeds at a future work session.

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