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Water rules, stadium dominate Hagerstown meeting with delegation

December 11, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts, the five-member city council and other city staff met with members of the Washington County state delegation Tuesday evening for about 40 minutes inside the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

Most of the conversation revolved around the issues municipalities are facing with the EPA-mandated stormwater management changes to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and the possibility of asking the state for funding toward a city redevelopment project, which could include a potential stadium.

State Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, who works closely with environmental issues, said he understands how difficult it is for local governments to deal with the projected costs of complying with the Bay mandates.

Young said he plans to keep “pushing on” state agencies to establish “best practices” to help implement appropriate action within communities while keeping the shrinking budgets of towns and cities in mind.

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“There’s no easy answer on that,” he said. “The Bay’s got to be protected, but not at the cost of bankrupting communities.”

On the funding request topic, state Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, said the recent election sent an initial message to state officials that it was “game off” for the $10 million request that the city was banking on for its $37 million proposed downtown stadium project.

In any case, Serafini said the state will do what it can to support whatever project the city decides to pursue — not limited to just a mulituse stadium — and a request for funding would need to happen as soon as possible.

“Whatever it is that you want, we have to get our act together if we’re going to have any opportunity in this session,” he said. “... The message is: We’re here to support you.”

Gysberts said the election results were more indicative of an unrest about the city’s handling of the planning for the downtown facility, not that the city no longer wishes to build a stadium in the community to keep the Hagerstown Suns.

“The sense of urgency I know is there, and we’re doing the best we can to gather all the information and also to make sure the public and the people we represent are part of the process,” the mayor said.

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