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Hagerstown City Council briefs

March 19, 2013

City approves purchase agreement for downtown property

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing city staff to enter into a purchase agreement for a downtown property at 43-53 W. Washington St., for $320,000.

The current owner is listed as Hagerstown Table Corp., according to the purchase agreement.

The ordinance stipulates several findings in city code, including that the property has deteriorated so much that it poses “a serious and growing menace to public health, safety and welfare” and the property owner has not taken steps to correct the problem, city documents show.

City officials have said they plan on buying the building, renovating it and possibly demolishing a rear portion, and then putting it back on the market for resale.

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Prior to the 4-0 vote, Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said the buildings meet the four findings in the ordinance, noting photographs showing the conditions inside the storefront of 43 W. Washington St., where a portion of the roof has collapsed.

“It’s a sad state that we’ve reached the point where we procure this process for that turn around, but they clearly fit the bill,” Aleshire said of the properties.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker urged city staff to preserve the architectural heritage of the two connected buildings in their renovation efforts.

The funding for the acquisition is through the city’s Community Development Block Grant and state Community Legacy funds.

A second motion related to the property, a proposed agreement between the city and the Potomac Bead Co., located at 53 W. Washington St., was taken off the agenda by Mayor David S. Gysberts prior to its consideration Tuesday.

According to city documents, the agreement would call for Nathan and Allison Buchman, owners of Potomac Bead Co., to rescind their first right of refusal with the current owner of 43-53 W. Washington St., then in turn offer them the option of purchasing all or part of 49-53 W. Washington St., after the city subdivides it during renovations.

John Lestitian, the city’s director of Community and Economic Development, said the proposal was taken off the agenda because the proposed agreement was not yet finalized Tuesday.
Councilwoman Penny Nigh was absent.

Officials discuss pool operations for 2013 season

Hagerstown’s Claude M. Potterfield Pool will open for the 2013 season over Memorial Day weekend again this year and close Aug. 18, a city official said Tuesday.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue went before the Hagerstown City Council to talk about this year’s operations and some new additions to the pool at 730 Frederick St.

Tissue said a new pavilion has been built near the concession stand to provide more shade for patrons, and additional shade canopies are being installed on the pool deck.

Tissue also came to suggest that the city approve another one-year contract with the YMCA, which has managed the pool for the past four seasons.

The YMCA provides paid employees to serve as manager and assistant manager of the pool, as well as trains lifeguards, Tissue said. No admission rate changes are expected.

The five-member council is expected to vote on the proposed agreement with the YMCA on Tuesday, March 26.

City considers sending additional notices for unpaid speed camera tickets

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday took steps to make sure motorists who have unpaid and overdue speeding tickets from city speed cameras in school zones see additional notices in the mail.

A proposed amendment was brought before the five-member council, which would authorize the vendor, Brekford, to send out up to three additional notices, increasing the total number of notices for unpaid tickets from three to six.

The estimated cost of the additional mailings to the city is between $1,000 and $2,000 per month and would be paid through revenues generated by the program, according to city documents.

Michelle Burker, the city’s finance director, told city council members that the average collection rate on issued violations is approximately 73 percent.

As of March 1, there were 7,242 outstanding tickets totaling $358,245, and 43 percent of those citations, or 3,131, were more than 121 days old, representing about $228,235, Burker said.

Approximately 7 percent to 10 percent of citations were issued to out-of-state drivers, she said, and of those, only about 57 percent actually pay the ticket.

Burker said registered vehicles owners with violations greater than 120 days old and totaling $100 or more will be referred to the city’s attorney for further processing.

— C.J. Lovelace

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