Hagerstown City Council briefs

January 22, 2013

City approves loan request for theater improvements
The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday approved a one-time exception for a loan request from The Maryland Theatre to borrow $28,000 for required heating, cooling and air conditioning upgrades and repairs at the facility.
The five-member council voted 4-1 to approve the exception, with Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire casting the lone dissenting vote.
The seven-year loan at 3 percent interest could not be funded through the city’s Community Development Block Grant loan programs, so it would have to come through the Business Revolving Loan Program, according to a memo from John Lestitian, the city’s director of community and economic development.
However, city policy prohibits nonprofit organizations from receiving assistance through the program, Lestitian said in the memo.
Aleshire said he would rather see the city grant the money to the venue through hotel-motel tax revenue instead of offering a loan that must be paid back.
Since the theater is viewed as an economic driver for the downtown and other businesses “arguably” benefit from its operation, staff met with a city attorney, who determined a one-time exception from the policy would be permissible, he said.

Contractors get contracts for sidewalk upgrades
Two Washington County contractors were awarded contracts Tuesday for a sidewalk improvement project in Hagerstown’s West End.
By a 5-0 vote, the Hagerstown City Council approved a $235,000 contract to Huntzberry Brothers Inc. of Smithsburg and a $150,000 contract to Concrete Central LLC of Hagerstown.
Huntzberry Brothers will complete sidewalks, ramps and retaining walls along Washington Avenue/National Pike from Bryan Place to Nottingham Road. Concrete Central will do the same on West Franklin Street.
Funding for the work comes from a $385,000 grant through the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Retrofit Sidewalk program.
Low bids for the work came in higher than the grant amount, so the scope of work for both contracts was reduced, according to city documents.
City staff recommended completing just the “outside” sidewalk areas, meaning the north side of West Franklin Street and the south side of Washington Avenue, city documents state.
The work also will include handicap ramps at all corners to allow pedestrians to cross intersections to the side that has sidewalk.

Council approves upgrades for stadium
The Hagerstown City Council gave its unanimous final approval Tuesday to $35,000 worth of upgrades for Municipal Stadium to be completed before the start of the upcoming season in April.
The five-member council also approved the Hagerstown Suns’ fireworks schedule for 2013 of 13 shows.
Stadium upgrades include children’s activities and needed safety features at the 82-year-old facility, including a shade structure over the picnic area, a canopy over a kid’s “bounce house” area and dugout drain repairs.
The city’s lease with the team requires a commitment of up to $35,000 in Capital Improvement Funds to be allocated for stadium upgrades each fiscal year.

City approves purchase of new police cruiser
The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of a new cruiser for the city police department at a cost of $41,644.
Previously discussed by the five-member council, the vehicle, a 2013 Ford Police Interceptor SUV, will be used by the officer assigned to oversee the city’s automated speed camera enforcement system.
Funding for the vehicle comes from revenue generated by the speed cameras, which are placed in various school zones around the city.
The vehicle will be purchased from Brekford of Hanover, Md., the same vendor that supplies the speed cameras.
— C.J. Lovelace

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