August 1 – In an effort to be able to get everyone to National Night Out at the Fairgrounds in Hagerstown, this afternoon’s Mayor and Council work session has four items on the agenda.
One is a discussion for an open container extension request for an annual event.
Wes Decker, Communications Officer for the City of Hagerstown said, “Which is Porch Fest, which is put on by the Historic Heights Neighborhoods 1st Group, out near Prospect Street. A brand new brewery in town, Smoketown, asking for that open container exemption to be part of that particular event coming up in September of this year.”
The urban tree grant program will also be discussed.
Decker explained, “The acceptance of a grant by the city of Hagerstown for $60,000 to plant trees in and around the city. So those are two pretty easy ones.”
The Mayor and Council will then take a look at the advanced metering infrastructure.
Decker said it’s “related to the Hagerstown light department and just keeping up with the times in terms of being able to meter people’s electricity. That technology is changing all the time, trying to make it more efficient, and more accurate. (There’s) over 17,000 meters here’s the city. They require upkeep all the time. Not only do they require upkeep, that technology changes. So how do you make it so that they are accurate, and how do you get that information back to the light department?”
The city is looking at more than $4 million to upgrade the electric meters over the next five years.
Decker said, “So that is a big one to drop. But again, when you’re talking about infrastructure and you talk about the city of 43,000 plus, that’s one of those price tags that at some point you have to take on. So that will be a big item of discussion coming up this afternoon.”
Last week’s full meeting saw some people stepping up to the mic to be heard.
Decker said, “We had residents come in from East Avenue who were having an issue there with crime related activity. Actually, at the end of the meeting it was addressed by the Mayor and a couple of members of council. Many times when those comments are made during a meeting, citizens don’t get that immediate feedback from the mayor and council and they did get that last week. I do know that those individuals were able to talk with Hagerstown police representatives after the meeting to address some of their concerns. So I think that was a real positive turn of events. Again, something that doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. Certainly everyone is heard, but as far as that response is concerned, that usually doesn’t happen just like that. So it was pretty swift last week, at least as it related to that.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “That’s the second go around where someone has come into a meeting and said, hey, we’ve got a beef and the mayor and people are out on the streets shortly after the meeting to make sure yeah, we hear you. Now we see you and we’re actively engaged with it. That’s pretty good stuff right there.”
Decker said, “I think it’s a little bit of the squeaky wheel syndrome in a way, but at the same time, it’s citizens taking initiative. You have people who take pride in where they live. They want to be able to function as most of us do without having to deal with the various characters in these things that are taking place that are of a concern, not just for them, but for the community around them. So yes, I think it’s something that needs to happen, and it’s good to see it happen. It’s just unfortunate that those things are going on to begin with. But that response was so rapid I think it was positive.”
Ryan said, “We’re all so used to an email trail or a phone message here, and then it’s weeks and things like that. I’m telling you that’s a private sector response on a government level. I am thrilled at hearing that story.”
The work session this afternoon begins at 4 p.m. and can be viewed in person or on the city’s Facebook Page or YouTube Channel.