Letters to the Editor - June 22

June 21, 2012

Civil War Railroad Trail is a bad idea

To the editor:
The proposed Civil War Railroad Trail is nothing more than a bicycle trail. A place where bicyclists can ride their bikes, and, of course, we need one of those. The Washington County Commissioners are promoting the idea. Unfortunately, this proposed bicycle trail is going to cost us, the taxpayers, $16.4 million (estimated; it will end up being much more if government statistics hold true).

Where is that $16.4 million going to come from? The County Commissioners are not sure, but they suspect that it will come from Washington County and cooperating municipalities (your tax dollars) the state of Maryland (more of your tax dollars) and theU.S. Department of Transportationand theU.S. Department of the Interior(even more of your tax dollars).

Now, here is my problem: The Environmental Protection Agency just sent Washington County a $1.1 billion directive for, yet another, clean up the bay initiative.


The State of Maryland plans to shift county employees’ retirement costs from the state to the county, meaning that would be our county, our tax dollars, along with teachers and other county employees, paying more of their retirement funds. God only knows how much that is going to cost us.

Do we really need to spend $16.4 million on a bike trail?

First of all, the Civil War Railroad Trail has absolutely nothing to do with the Civil War that I can determine.

Apparently, the County Commissioners feel that if they attach the term “civil war” to any taxpayer-paid-for entity, that we, the taxpayers, will buy it and go along with it.

This is a bad idea.
Greg Morris

Downtown needs more businesses for revitalization

To the editor:
In George Coyle’s letter to the editor (June 16), he asks why we need more restaurants downtown or anywhere else.

Before answering that question, I would ask Mr. Coyle if he has noticed all the empty buildings downtown.

Has he taken note of the restaurants and other small businesses that have closed or left the downtown over the past few years? And the outlets — has he taken a survey of the businesses that were there two to three years ago that are not there today? By all accounts, downtown Hagerstown qualifies as having a depressed economy.

By pointing out that 50 years ago shops were in the downtown and left one by one, Mr. Coyle answers his own question as to the reason the downtown needs more businesses in general — which could include restaurants, bar and grill, maybe even a good ole honky-tonk.

The purpose for downtown revitalization is to improve a community’s economic, physical and social well-being. Once the city has a viable revitalization process with the necessary buy-in and support from local leaders and the community, the downtown can and will thrive, the quality of life will improve, income levels will begin to turn the corner and more people will have an opportunity to live the American dream.
Jonathan R. Burrs

Editor’s note: The letter writer is a candidate for Hagerstown City Council.

School health clinics needed, despite costs

To the editor:
Some of you might recall the last big recession in the 1980s; Ronald Reagan was president. At that time, the United States was the world leader in education. Today, during this “Great Recession,” we’ve lost the No. 1 position. Perhaps that has something to do with the sluggish pace of economic recovery.

Many, including myself, would propose massive federal investments in education as one avenue out of this ditch. The unemployment level for those with a bachelor’s degree remains below 4 percent. In other words, the pain of our current recession falls greatest on those least educated. Now is not the time to make deep cuts in education and the supporting programs that keep students on the right track.

Having health services available in each school makes it easier for students to attend at higher levels and generate greater general academic achievement. I participated in the discussions that led to school health clinics about 20 years ago. I was a big supporter then and remain so today.

We are required by state law to provide these clinics. School medical services give students access to better health care, the same way the lunch program boosts critical child nutrition. Student health services provide first-line intervention for referral for treatment of early sickness and mental health care. School clinics improve welfare and attendance. 

Our students deserve every bit of support to make the educational journey more successful. All shortcuts to the financial support of our schools and their teaching and administrative staff are more costly in the long run.

Do not accept savings today that create a deleterious boomerang effect in 2030. We need to pay the cost of excellent education for everyone more than any other local, state or national demand.

M. Douglas Becker

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