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Donoghue's bond bills hit the mark

March 04, 2013

No two people at the moment seem to be in agreement about how to proceed with city redevelopment, but one project does appear high on the “to do” lists of one and all — ridding the horizon of the old Hagerstown power plant.

The decrepit plant, last active nearly 40 years ago, dominates the city’s East End, making it difficult to envision any aesthetic progress in the neighborhood as long as it remains standing.

That’s why we strongly support a state grant request filed in Annapolis by Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, which would put up $300,000 toward demolition costs.

“For years, it’s been an eyesore and an environmental hazard, and it’s one of the pieces of trying to transform Hagerstown ... so we can start by knocking that down,” Donoghue said last week.

There’s really not a whole lot more to be said. The size and toxicity of the property make renovation out of the question. And the plant eats up a lot of prime real estate on the banks of the Antietam Creek — land that some believe could offer attractive water access.

At the same time, we would also support Donoghue’s request for $85,000 toward renovation of the Antietam Fire Co. building on Potomac Avenue.

While perhaps not having as high a profile, we see this project as worthwhile in and of itself, and also as a way to put to rest a brief and unwise position staked out by a majority of the county’s delegation members.

Swept up in the wave of global austerity perhaps, some lawmakers wore their failure to bring bond money back to the district as a badge of honor. That would have been fine had the balance of the state done the same thing.

Instead, the rest of the state delegations saw their projects funded pretty much as usual, while we were largely shut out.

We believe it’s time for the rest of the delegation to move past that rather Quixotic position and support our local bond bills. To do otherwise is to hand our citizens’ tax dollars over to other counties around the state, localities that will be more than happy to use the money to develop their own projects at our expense.

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