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Hagerstown mayor denies there is a council majority on stadium site

Gysberts: '... No decisions have been made by either myself or any member of this council one way or the other'

June 19, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | hollyshok@herald-mail.com

Although the topic of building a multiuse stadium for the Hagerstown Suns has been conspicuously absent from recent Hagerstown City Council agendas, talk about the minor league baseball team’s future heated up again Tuesday, when a council member suggested the “wheels and cogs” are being set in motion behind the scenes.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he was unaware of the meeting Mayor David S. Gysberts had with Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn last week, which Gysberts acknowledged in the Saturday edition of The Herald-Mail.

“I haven’t been mum on anything, whatever you want to ask me about the Suns ... I am more than open to sharing .... However, if I don’t have the information, then obviously I can’t share,” Aleshire said during the meeting at City Hall.

Aleshire said he has heard from at least three sources that the five-member council has privately achieved a three-person majority to build the stadium at the downtown site, which he opposes, and is in negotiations with private parties to revisit that proposal.

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“I am not privy to those conversations, I am not part of those discussions, if members of this body are having those discussion, I am not aware of them ...,” Aleshire said.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she has received phone calls from a handful of people who are upset about similar rumors that the council is reaching a majority on the downtown site.

Gysberts said a clear direction regarding a stadium plan will be established by mid-July, noting that the reason the topic has not been on recent agendas is due to a lack of new information.

“ ... No decisions have been made by either myself or any member of this council one way or the other,” Gysberts said, noting council members should not be restricted from having private conversations with anyone in the community.

“I don’t have something to bring forward in terms of an agreement .... I continue on that path not knowing the decision of the council in terms of a site, but I do think we can work on a negotiated agreement we can bring forward to the council that doesn’t really need to be site specific, and then at the appropriate time, we can make those decisions.”

In April, consultant Ripken Design unveiled three new proposed sites in Hagerstown where a multiuse stadium could be built. However, the previously considered downtown site near the corner of West Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue has yet to be ruled out.

The Hagerstown council’s discussion comes on the heels of the Fredericksburg City Council’s unanimous vote on June 11 to spend $50,000 to evaluate a proposal to bring a minor league baseball team to the Virginia city.

The Suns are considering a move to the Stafford County community, according to The Free Lance Star in Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw confirmed last month that the city council received an “unsolicited” proposal for a baseball stadium, but neither she nor city officials would comment on who made the offer.

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