Population shifts paint new portraits of towns
Numbers show change in Washington Co. communities
The Cannon Ridge housing development is seen Friday in Keedysville. Cannon Ridge is one of two developments that are largely responsible for the town's growth in the past decade. (By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer)
Washington County's canvas is full of new houses and townhouses that were built during the housing boom in the mid-2000s.
But census figures released last week also indicate how some of those housing developments never got off the ground and some homes ended up in foreclosure, officials with county and municipal governments said.
Smithsburg and Keedysville grew significantly, which would be obvious to anyone who's driven past new developments such as Whispering Hills in Smithsburg or Rockingham and Cannon Ridge in Keedysville.
Smithsburg added more residents, 829 from 2000 to 2010, while Keedysville had the greatest percentage growth — 139 percent — of the county's municipalities.
"It affected the town big time there for a while. We had to keep up with our services," Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.
The town now has four police officers, including the chief, up from two or three officers in 2000, Myers said.
During the housing boom, the town was "constantly being bombarded with developers who wanted to annex in and a lot of those, in the last couple of years, just fell by the wayside because they didn't finish because the economy dropped," Myers said.
Much of the growth during the decade was in southern and eastern Washington County, but Hagerstown also experienced a building boom before the economy slumped.
Thirty-nine annexations were completed in Hagerstown from March 2000 to February 2010, according to a list provided by the Hagerstown Planning Department. Many of them were zoned residential.
There also were several subdivisions within the city, Hagerstown Planning Director Kathy Maher said.
The new housing included Hager's Crossing near Walmart, Greenwich Park along Mount Aetna Road, Collegiate Acres between Salem Avenue/Md. 58 and Maugansville Road, and several new homes in the East End of Hagerstown around Pangborn Elementary and off Pangborn Boulevard, Maher said.
City officials will use the census data, as well as demographic information from the American Community Survey, to compare the city to the county and peer cities to get a sense of the community's prosperity and health, Maher said. Then they can explore what could be done to help make the city more attractive to new residents, she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald-Mail.
Census population numbers will also be used to redraw lines for election districts and are important for states, counties and cities in qualifying for federal dollars.
"It equates to about $842 per citizen per year in federal money," Washington County Commissioners Vice President John Barr said.
The small get smaller
Funkstown and the county's two most western towns — Hancock and Clear Spring — lost population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Clear Spring remains the county's smallest town, by population, and got even smaller in the last decade. The town's population dropped 21 percent, from 455 people in 2000 to 358 in 2010, according to census data.