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Washington County lobbying coalition outlines priorities

Group wants the delegation to push for improvements in the 'Eastern Boulevard Corridor'

December 11, 2012|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Community Coalition on Tuesday unveiled a tentative agenda that it wants its state legislators to pursue at the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session at a lunch meeting with the county delegation Tuesday.

The meeting was organized by the Greater Hagerstown Committee, which is part of the lobbying coalition.

John Latimer, a member of the community coalition, said that state-funding for a downtown stadium will continue to be a priority for the coalition if the newly elected Hagerstown City Council wants it to be.

“If this is still a priority, we will support that,” Latimer said.

The previous council had asked for $10 million in state funding for the stadium.

The coalition also wants the delegation to push for improvements in the “Eastern Boulevard Corridor,” which includes a provision to widen Eastern Boulevard from U.S. 40 to Antietam Drive.

The suggested improvements to the boulevard would include construction of a bridge over Antietam Creek to extend Professional Court.

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Last year, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley told Washington County officials that funding for such projects would be limited.

Another priority would be to secure funding of about $1 million for restoration of the C&O Canal structures in Williamsport, Latimer said.

The coalition also wants the delegation to keep an eye on funding for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, among several items on its watch list. Latimer said that the coalition wanted to ensure that funding for USMH is not cut.

“All we need is the same level of funding we had last year. Thank you very much,” said Mark Halsey, executive director of USMH, at the meeting.

The legislators also shared some of their priorities.

Sen. Ronald Young, D-Frederick/Washington, said he would propose a bill that would let local governments raise their sales tax by 2 cents if they want to fund local transportation projects.

“Basically I am putting the burden back on the local government ... if you want it, raise your local sales tax,” Young said.

Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, said that he would stop any bills that would hurt businesses.

“We will make sure we do not put any more impositions on businesses,” Parrott said. “It is not always about passing bills, it is also about stopping bad bills.”

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