January 11 – Hagerstown Mayor and City Council held a work session yesterday afternoon where the group looked at a few projects in the works for the city.
Communications Officer Wes Decker joined First News this morning for a recap of the work session.
The city is looking at purchasing five of the six Meritus-owned properties at the former hospital site to create a Battlefield Park with the help of the Battlefield Trust.
Decker said, “One of the questions was would that take the properties off the tax rolls? The answer to that is perhaps one or two of the properties would come off the tax rolls permanently, but the other ones we believe would become enhanced in terms of people looking at those properties and wanting those properties for themselves.”
Mayor and Council seemed interested in the concept.
Decker said, “We would get those properties back on the tax rolls. Once they’re redeveloped instead of vacant land sitting there, we’d have redeveloped properties that would be the division for all of this around the Battlefield Park.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “Did anybody bring up the fact that you have Antietam Battlefield. You have Gettysburg Battlefield. We are pretty good on history and historic destinations in our footprint here. Did anybody talk about why do we need this and removing some taxable properties out there for what seems like another…why wouldn’t we promote going to Antietam or Gettysburg? Did anybody bring that up?”
Decker said, “That would become part of the entire chain if you will of Civil War battlefields and Civil War parks to visit. Many of the people who come into the area, their goal is to visit Antietam or their goal is to visit Gettysburg. What’s been determined through tourism is many of those people stay in Hagerstown. So now they would have not only a reason to stay in Hagerstown, but also an opportunity to explore more of the Civil War history.”
There was a Civil War battle in Hagerstown.
Decker said, “To have more information on the battle of Hagerstown readily available to people and some of the things that they can see tangibly and experience, I think that is part of the tie in to this is the Civil War history in the area.”
Also at yesterday’s work session, Mayor and Council heard about the Hagerstown Youth News Corp Project.
The Speak Up Community News covers four states and would like to do training and recruitment of 16 to 21 year olds to work on that publication. The Hagerstown Youth Council would possibly partner with this.
Decker said, “What they’re attempting to do is to bring this to the 21st century of being able to get things out to the public through all social media platforms in a way that a younger demographic would also be able to consume it.”
The group asked for $50,000 for one year.
Decker said, “Much of that would be covered or potentially could be covered through a Community Block Grant and ARPA funding. So stay tuned on that. Much more to come. There are a lot of facets and components to this.”