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Hagerstown City Council briefs

March 12, 2013

Funding sought for parking deck
The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday identified design and engineering costs for a new downtown parking deck as its top priority in a funding request through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
The 50-50 matching request of $350,000 through the ARC will now be submitted to the Washington County Board of Commissioners for further consideration in the county’s overall priorities to be sent to the Tri-County Council of Western Maryland.
City Planner Alex Rohrbaugh told the five-member council that initial estimates for a new 490-space, four-story deck would cost about $8.5 million, excluding land acquisition and design costs of about $700,000. The city would be responsible for the other half of the design costs.
“We tried to pick projects that were mutually beneficial to the county,” Rohrbaugh said during the meeting at City Hall.
A second project request — $25,000 for a city broadband expansion strategic plan — will also go to the county commissioners for consideration in the countywide proposal.
Rohrbaugh said $1.3 million in ARC funding is available this year between Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties. The deadline to submit preliminary projects to the county is April 1, Rohrbaugh said.

City moves toward buying property on West Washington Street
The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the introduction of a ordinance authorizing city staff to move forward with the acquisition of 43-53 W. Washington St., for $320,000.
The property has been owned by Hagerstown Table Corp., for the past 17 years. It has since fallen into disrepair and the city intends to renovate a portion of the structure for resale to the private sector and to demolish a rear portion, city officials have said.
Approval of the ordinance will go before the five-member council Tuesday, March 19, but the property will still need to be inspected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, according to John Lestitian, the city’s director of Community and Economic Development.
Lestitian told council members a separate stand-alone motion related to the property purchase will be brought before the elected body next week, specifically about the current tenants of the building.
Potomac Bead Co., a longtime retail staple at 53 W. Washington St., will be offered a right of refusal agreement, which would allow them to purchase a portion of the building back from the city once it is subdivided, Lestitian has said.
The purchase will be made with Community Development Block Grant funds as well as $100,000 in state funds, already secured through Maryland’s Community Legacy program.
Councilman Donald F. Munson commended city staff members for their diligence in negotiating a fair price for the acquisition, with an eye toward downtown revitalization.
“The City of Hagerstown is getting a good deal on this, and that’s all because of staff work,” Munson said. “I just want to say we’re grateful.”

City Council OK’s introduction of bond sale ordinance
The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance enabling city staff to move forward with its proposed 2013 public facilities bond sale of $4.15 million.
The bond allocates $1,024,427 to the General Fund, plus $1,905,000 to the city’s Water Fund, $1,125,000 to the Wastewater Fund and $100,000 to the Parking Fund.
The cost of issuing the bonds totaled $120,573, making the total bond sale $4,275,000, according to Tuesday’s motion.
Proceeds for the General Fund are made up of $250,000 to go toward the demolition, site work and reclamation of the former Municipal Electric Light Plant property as well as $346,000 for a 50 percent down payment on a replacement Engine 1 firetruck, according to Michelle Burker, the city’s director of finance.
The remaining $428,427 of the General Fund bond financing will go toward other projects and emergency repair needs, Burker has said.
The bond proceeds to the city’s utility and parking funds, which will be used to upgrade systems and complete maintenance, are paid through user fees, Burker has said.
A bond resolution will need be to approved by the five-member council in the coming months prior to the sale of bonds and closing, which is anticipated to be completed by June, Burker has said.

— C.J. Lovelace

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