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Hagerstown mayor: Lease proposal with Suns nearly ready for review

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II says he doesn't know if agreement will be signed before election

October 24, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Whether its finalized before or after the Nov. 6 election, the city’s newest lease proposal with the Hagerstown Suns could be ready for review by the end of the week, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Wednesday.

“I know that (city) staff worked very hard yesterday to try to meet somewhere in the middle to get a consensus from the Suns,” Bruchey said, “but I have not seen that draft yet ... the council hasn’t either.”

Bruchey said he hopes city staff can have the proposal ready for inspection by Friday. It’s not yet clear when the Hagerstown City Council could vote to approve it.

In talking with Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn, Bruchey said he feels Quinn is satisfied with the provisions made by the city as the two sides continue to try to forge a 20-year agreement to keep the team in town.

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“But again, I haven’t seen the final draft,” the mayor said.

Quinn did not respond to phone messages seeking comment Wednesday night.

The five-member city council could meet Tuesday, Oct. 30, just a week before citizens decide the next administration, but it’s not required because it is the fifth Tuesday of the month.

Bruchey said he is “leaning more toward” having the meeting to at least discuss the changes in the new proposal.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said during Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall that he doesn’t think that they should meet again before the election. He said Wednesday he’s heard rumors that a deal has been struck between the city and the team, but has “not spoken to anyone officially about anything.”

Asked if a lease agreement with the Suns could be signed prior to the election, Bruchey said it depends on “certain circumstances” and, at this point, he wasn’t sure.

“I just don’t know,” he said.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton, the lone incumbent not seeking re-election, said at the Tuesday’s meeting that the current administration doesn’t plan to “push through a stadium with the last two meetings on this agenda.” Bruchey and other council members reminded citizens that the city is not yet committed to building the proposed downtown multiuse sports and events center.

Important tasks — like forging a lease with the Suns and confirming private and state funding, among other things — still need to be completed for the estimated $37 million project to move forward, council members said.

“We’re still doing the process,” Bruchey said. “That’s what we’re elected to do and we’re doing our due diligence ... and if this administration can’t adopt a lease or adopt those things, then the next administration has to be ready with the right information. You can’t just let this roll another year, one way or the other.”

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