Advertisement

Legislators: Hagerstown risks not getting any redevelopment funds in fiscal 2015

July 27, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

Some members of Washington County’s legislative delegation say Hagerstown city government has to make a definite pitch to the state about its plans for downtown redevelopment soon or risk not getting any money during fiscal 2015.

Del. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, who is chairman of the county delegation, said the capital budget for fiscal 2015 — which will be discussed and voted on by the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis during the 2014 session — is already being formulated as jurisdictions submit their requests for various projects.

“I cannot force the issue. The city has to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what we want to lobby for,’” Serafini said. Until then, “there is nothing to pitch. There is nothing to argue for.”

Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, whose district includes Hagerstown, agreed with Serafini.

Hagerstown Mayor David Gysberts said he thinks it is not too late to ask for state money for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1, 2014.

The mayor sent a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley during the 2013 session of the legislature asking for $10 million in fiscal 2015 for a multiuse stadium as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan.

Gysberts said last week he believes it is not too late to have money included in the state’s capital budget for fiscal 2015 if a downtown redevelopment study is ready by the end of the year.

“I think we will be ready much before that,” Gysberts said, referring to a “vision for downtown Hagerstown.”

“I already sent a letter to the governor .... I think that it is important that we are ready by the time the legislative session opens. We are on track to do that,” he said.

Gysberts said that he wants to work with members of the county delegation.

The 90-day 2014 session of the legislature begins on Jan. 8, 2014.

This year, the state allocated $100,000 to the city for a redevelopment study of downtown Hagerstown for fiscal 2014, which began July 1.

City officials have said they are in talks with the Maryland Department of Business Development to decide how that money can be best spent.

Gysberts said he hoped to know more about whether the city would sign a deal with the Hagerstown Suns in the coming months.

During a visit to Hagerstown in June, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said that the state would follow the direction of local leaders.

 “I know you have a big challenge locally to figure out what direction that you want to go,” he said at the time.

 Shank said that the time to make specific requests is in the summer or early fall.

“Typically, in order to be considered for a project of that magnitude, the details have to be worked out. You can’t just say, ‘Hey, save me $10 million.’ You have to have a proposal. You have to have a fixed project in mind, you know, what it looks like,” Shank said.

“So you need a location, you need to know what the private sector is kicking in, what the local government is kicking in, and what the expected state contribution is. All of that needs to be worked out before a request is considered favorably,” he said.

Shank, who noted he is open to a public-private partnership for downtown redevelopment, said the lack of a final plan is not conducive to approval of funding.

“The longer the process draws itself out, the less successful the opportunity to request funds would be,” he said.

Competition from other jurisdictions in terms of money being requested from the state is another factor, Shank said.

“There is no plan the delegation has reviewed. The delegation has not been asked to consider a thing yet,” Shank said.

Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, whose electoral subdistrict includes Hagerstown, said he “did not know who’s making the next move.”

Donoghue said that anything can happen in Annapolis, and there is no deadline when it comes to funding requests.

“Money gets rearranged all the time,” he said.

Once there was something to ask for, Donoghue said he would be happy to “make use of my contacts in Annapolis.”

“Right now, we don’t have the synergy. We don’t have all the parties involved on the same page,” Donoghue said.

“Hopefully, for the sake of the community, we can all get together,” he said.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|