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Hagerstown, state officials discuss revitalization funds

March 20, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — Efforts to get state money for the revitalization of downtown Hagerstown are continuing with two prominent city residents meeting with top officials from the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s office Wednesday to appraise them of developments.

D. Bruce Poole, a local attorney and a former member of the House of Delegates who has been involved with downtown revitalization plans, said he and Bill Proctor, a local attorney, met with Maia Estes, the chief of staff at the lieutenant governor’s office, and Matthew Verghese, the deputy chief of staff for the lieutenant governor.

They also met with Matthew Gallagher, the chief of staff at the governor’s office and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

The meetings, Poole said, were an effort to get people to start “thinking about things,” adding that he was asked by the lieutenant governor’s office for the update.

“They did say it was very, very late in the session and money is tight,” Poole said, adding that he did not make any specific requests.

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But he said it was important that downtown revitalization plans start to take a more concrete shape.

“We really need to get to an ignition point,” Poole said.

A group consisting of real estate development officials including a company called Sora Development is in talks with the city for a possible public-private partnership for downtown redevelopment.

In February, Hagerstown mayor David S. Gysberts wrote a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley requesting $10 million in the fiscal year 2015 capital budget for a proposed multiuse sports and event facility in downtown Hagerstown.

Donoghue, who welcomed Wednesday’s meetings, said he was trying to get about $331,000 from the state as planning money for downtown revitalization.

“I have been in talks with the governor’s office and the lieutenant governor’s office,” he said.

One possible source of funds might be the supplemental budget, Donoghue said.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency, is another source he is looking to for planning money, Donoghue said.

Poole said he and Proctor also briefed the officials on other issues in Washington County, such as transportation needs.

“It is clear that the Lt. Governor (Anthony Brown) is following the issues very closely and wants to help Hagerstown and Washington County,” Poole said.

Proctor said he was trying to make “sure that the revitalization moves in the right direction.”

Donoghue said he remained optimistic that the city could get some planning money for downtown revitalization from the state during the current legislative session.

“You never know how things move down here,” he said. “Things can change really quickly.”

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