Information about Hagerstown’s proposed downtown stadium project — dubbed “MUSEC,” short for multiuse sports and entertainment center — has been removed from the city website, not even 24 hours after a new plan to possibly build a facility in the city’s East End was pitched.
A link on the city’s homepage titled “Multiuse Center” was taken down Wednesday afternoon on the heels of Hagerstown Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn’s concept for the alternative $25 million stadium project.
A search of the website for information about the MUSEC on Thursday returned no results.
Additionally, an email sent by city officials to Downtown Alliance members said that staff would be “suspending the Downtown MUSEC committee meetings.”
When asked about the removal of the information from the website, Erin Wolfe, the city’s communications manager, said city staff were not directly told to take it down, and it was merely based on their “impression” from the mayor and Hagerstown City Council.
“We have to work in cohesion with our council,” Wolfe said.
“As the council explores options, we move with the direction of council,” she added. “ ... We’re letting council explore where they want to take the project. And if they don’t want to move forward with it, we don’t want to promote the information.”
Councilwoman Penny Nigh said Thursday evening that she had not been notified and was not aware that the MUSEC information was pulled from the website.
“I certainly think council should have been made aware of it,” she said.
Telephone messages left for Mayor David S. Gysberts and the four other council members went unreturned Thursday night.
Wolfe said that taking the material down doesn’t signify that the downtown project is “dead,” just that it doesn’t support what the mayor and city council are currently considering.
The Herald-Mail obtained a copy of the city’s emailed letter — appearing to be from Jill Estavillo, the MUSEC project manager and city Economic Development manager, and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman — a few hours after it was sent out at 1:29 p.m. Thursday, according to its time stamp.
Nothing has been posted on the city’s website informing general citizens that those meetings will no longer take place.
The letter states that the city has also removed promotional videos about the project prepared during the past year that appeared on the city’s Antietam Cable channel 25, website, YouTube and Facebook.
“In addition, staff will not attend Downtown Alliance or other group meetings where the discussion is the Downtown MUSEC Project,” the letter states. “As the Mayor and Council has had a shift in direction, staff also needs to shift.”
The letter closes by thanking its addressees for their “commitment and dedication” to downtown Hagerstown.
“Your hard work, unwavering energy and sacrifice of the time are commendable and greatly appreciated! In the future, we hope there is an opportunity to work with you on other downtown improvement projects,” the letter states.
Since taking office last month, Gysberts and several city council members have expressed his desire to increase transparency in city business, including making stadium discussions as public and open as possible to allow for citizens to be a part of any project that the council would elect to pursue.