HAGERSTOWN —Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts sounded optimistic Monday talking about the city’s two “representatives” authorized Friday to begin downtown redevelopment talks with local stakeholders.
“They can start moving, but I think the thing that’s crucial is that it’s nonbinding and it's nonexclusive,” Gysberts said. “And it’s time limited, so it’s not like we’re selling the farm and there’s a whole lot of risk. There’s really no risk.”
City officials on Friday signed an amended letter entering into an agreement with Hagerstown attorney D. Bruce Poole and Dane Bauer, senior vice president of the engineering firm Daft McCune Walker, who represent a real estate investment group that also includes Towson, Md.-based Sora Development and Skanska Construction, a multinational company.
According to the agreement, Poole and Bauer will have the next five weeks to meet with various organizations on the city’s behalf, ultimately planning to pitch a list of potential projects that meet the city’s downtown redevelopment goals.
At that point, city officials will be able to decide if they would like to continue working with the group and could begin negotiating a public-private partnership.
As of Monday evening, Poole and Bauer had yet to sign the agreement, according to a city staff member.
City Clerk Donna Spickler said the agreement letter, now signed by Gysberts and all five Hagerstown City Council members, was dropped off at Poole’s Hagerstown law office Monday, but she had not heard from Poole or Bauer about the status of their signatures by about 5 p.m.
Bauer said Friday that he had all intentions of signing the agreement, despite changes made by city council members to make the agreement nonexclusive to just their group, meaning the city would not be obligated to use the group for all work associated with downtown redevelopment.
Poole had not returned a phone message seeking comment Monday.
However, Gysberts said he expected “no surprises” moving forward.
The mayor said he had not spoken with Poole or Bauer on Monday, but did see them Sunday at a function in Hagerstown attended by Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
Gysberts said his Sunday conversations with Poole and Bauer included “nothing technical” about their plans moving forward over the next few weeks.
“I know that they have a lot of meetings lined up with local folks,” he said. “They’ve been meeting with some of the local development community and I think they plan on meeting with more people. It seems like there’s a lot of positive momentum behind them.”
City Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire did not sign the agreement Friday, with other council members, but Spickler said she signed the document on his behalf Monday at Aleshire’s request.
According to the letter, the period of the agreement is from Friday, March 8, through one week after the end of the 2013 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly, which closes April 8.