Hagerstown City Council OKs up to $400,000 annually for multiuse sports and events center

Before moving forward with construction, the city needs to acquire a long-term lease with the Suns, secure more funding, complete property acquisitions and do additional analysis

May 08, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE |

The Hagerstown City Council unanimously approved a motion Tuesday evening to contribute up to $400,000 annually over a 20-year period to support the development and construction of a proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center.

City funding would match an indirect contribution of $400,000 by the Washington County Board of Commissioners, which agreed to take over the city’s yearly $400,000 payment to the 911 emergency communications center.

It allows the city to contribute up to $800,000 toward the local share of debt service on the facility that is estimated will cost about $30 million and include an adjacent parking deck.

However, the five-member council made it clear in its motion that this is not the final approval needed to proceed with the project.


Before moving forward with construction, the city needs to acquire a long-term lease with the Hagerstown Suns as the facility’s primary tenant, as well as secure private and state funding, do additional site analysis and complete property acquisitions.

“All those things have to happen,” Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said. “There’s a lot of challenges that we have to face, and we’ll address those challenges as we move forward.”

Prior to the voting session, the council met in executive session to discuss terms of a memorandum of understanding that would soon be presented to Suns ownership in the hopes of receiving a commitment that the minor league baseball team would stay in town if certain requirements are met by the city, Bruchey said.

“Hopefully, we’ve come up with verbiage that we’ll submit to Hagerstown Baseball LLC, and we’ll wait for a response from them,” he said. “Basically, what it does is solidify the city of Hagerstown as the place of choice to keep minor league baseball.”

Bruchey said there are no plans on holding any public hearings as the project proceeds, but there would be “public outreach” to the people who live nearby the proposed site near the corner of Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue.

“We’ve already started the ball rolling on that; to talk to people in that general vicinity,” the mayor said.

“We’re always open to comments and suggestions, and emails and phone calls, and everything else.”

There was no public comment period before Tuesday’s vote nor were there any residents present.

However, one woman spoke up against the multiuse center proposal later in the meeting during a public hearing on next year’s proposed budget.

Julie Rivett, who moved onto Summit Avenue in January, said she moved to the location because it was a quiet, one-way street with minimal traffic.

The mother of two young children said she is very concerned about the ballpark’s proposed location and the noise, especially from fireworks, which she said can already be heard from Municipal Stadium.

“I can’t live here. I cannot live here,” Rivett said. “I moved for the library. I moved for the theater.”

Rivett said she would look into organizing a community action group to fight the progress of the proposed facility, noting that  it’s going to be a “huge gamble” for the taxpayers if the project is pushed through.

“This is going to affect my family, and when you talk about affecting my children, I’m going to fight,” she said.

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