Hagerstown residents, business owners weigh in on prospect of BOE moving offices downtown
Hagerstown residents and business owners shared their opinions on possibility of the county board of education moving its central offices to the downtown area. (February 18, 2013)
The move, he said, could bring in more “walking wallets.”
“There’d be more professional people downtown and more people coming downtown to do business,” he said. “All these people are going to have to have lunch and dinner somewhere. We definitely need that.”
A study released last week by a Greater Hagerstown Committee task force calls moving the BOE central offices to downtown Hagerstown as “feasible” and recommends four preferred locations after looking at 12 potential sites.
The four recommended locations are two sites along East Washington Street between Potomac and Locust streets, one site on West Washington Street between Potomac and Jonathan streets, and another at the corner of West Antietam and South Potomac streets.
“I hope that it does move close by here,” said Charles Burkett, owner of Burkett’s Deli on North Locust Street. “I think it would bring more professionals to the downtown Hagerstown area, it would help small businesses like mine, and just clean up the appearance a little bit.”
Burkett, 35, said he would like the offices to move to East Washington Street because the city would then focus on areas near Locust Street and not just Potomac Street.
“They need to start putting some effort into this part of Hagerstown,” he said.
Gary Carter, owner of G&G Grill on South Potomac Street, said he believed the relocation would help his business, but he said he believed more would be needed.
“I think Hagerstown needs to focus on bringing more stores to the area, and I don’t think bringing the Board of Education downtown is going to necessarily bring in new businesses,” he said. “It would help the existing restaurants, but I still think we need to focus on bringing more businesses into the area.”
Most of those approached downtown Monday and asked for their opinion expressed support for a BOE move.
But Timothy Draper, 54, who lives in Potomac Towers, said he believes the city should focus on putting a grocery store and a pharmacy downtown before moving school administrative offices there.
“Things are already too congested down here,” he said. “I just don’t think it’d be a good idea. It’s not what we need.”
Michael Blackburn, who lives on West Franklin Street, said the move would make it easier for him if he needed to visit the BOE for anything pertaining to his daughter, who is in the first grade.
“If we ever needed to go to the board, it’d be right there,” Blackburn, 24, said. “You’d think stuff like that should be downtown. It could help the businesses.”
Sammie Frush, 68, who lives on East Washington Street, added that a move downtown would make it easier for people to find the BOE central office. “If it’s downtown and there’s decent parking, I’m all for it,” she said.
The central office is along Commonwealth Avenue and has somewhere between 160 and 200 people working there.
Colin Tomison, who lives at the corner of South Potomac and West Antietam streets, said moving the central offices to either of those streets could be a “turnaround” for the neighborhood.