Does Hub City understand economic development?
To the editor:
As a former employee of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, I feel compelled to voice my opinion on several projects being proposed by the City of Hagerstown consisting of a multipurpose stadium and an accompanying parking deck.
Since 1981, when the Hagerstown Suns first started playing minor league baseball in Municipal Stadium, every owner has expressed concerns about the condition of the 1930 vintage stadium. During 2002-06, there was a movement to build a new stadium in the western section of Hagerstown along Interstate 81 in which Allegheny Energy committed $1 million for naming rights. At that time, the City of Hagerstown and Washington County, even with the support of then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, would not commit to the expense of building a new stadium.
At that time, I recommended to city staff that they develop a functional Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for improvements to Municipal Stadium. Since then, the city has made several enhancements to the stadium — a new concourse, some new seating, a new playing surface, etc. — but these improvements have been in response to either mandates by Minor League Baseball or threats to relocate by the owners. If the City of Hagerstown had pursued a systemic approach to renovation(s), as I had suggested then, they would not be in the situation they are.
When Unilever Ice Cream announced it was going to terminate operations in Hagerstown, there was a meeting at the company’s Frederick Street facility to determine if there was any way that economic development staff could convince the company to retain operations here. Unilever Ice Cream, with 445 employees at that time, was the largest employer in the City of Hagerstown and was the largest consumer of electricity and water/sewer within the city limits. As I recall, the city did not send a representative to the meeting.
What I find interesting is that the City of Hagerstown was complacent toward Unilever Ice Cream and its 400-plus employees but wants to spend $30-plus million on retaining the Hagerstown Suns and their 50 part-time employees under the pretense that it is for economic development.
Stadium could produce needed foot traffic for businesses
To the editor:
There has been a great deal of discussion about whether to replace the existing baseball stadium by building a new stadium right in the middle of downtown only a block and a half from Public Square.
For many years, people have been trying to improve the downtown area. Currently, if people wish to go shopping, they find it easier to go to one of the malls or plazas that surround Hagerstown. The problem for Hagerstown becomes finding something that will, on a regular basis, attract large numbers of people downtown. New government offices have been built, the library is being greatly improved, The Maryland Theatre continues to offer a variety of good programs, the University System of Maryland is downtown, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts is centrally located and, for all of these, adequate parking has been provided.
However, for businesses to succeed downtown, they must have a lot of foot traffic on the streets near their stores. Currently, the governmental and nongovernmental attractions that are available downtown do not attract, on a weekly basis, an adequate amount of foot traffic. Looking at downtown, the question becomes, “What will produce enough foot traffic to create a business climate that will see most or all of the available business space in the downtown area in use?”
There are occasional special events that draw people downtown, but a lot of foot traffic once or twice a month is not enough to make a downtown business profitable. There must be something downtown that, for at least a large part of the year, will produce a lot of foot traffic. A downtown stadium seems to be the thing most likely to produce the business-enhancing foot traffic needed.
Were those who voted for Obama really smarter?
To the editor:
On Nov. 26, Daniel Moeller wrote a letter to the editor that stated there was “a very substantial difference in educational attainment between the residents of the 26 states and the District of Columbia that will give Electoral College votes to Obama and the 24 states that will give Electoral College votes to Romney.” He cites statistics that show a larger percentage of college grads in the states that voted for Obama.
It is basically his contention that the majority of the people in the states that voted for Obama were more educated and therefore smarter than those voters who voted for Romney.
OK, let us assume that he is correct. How then is it possible that these same voters voted to increase the number of Republican governors to 30? Why did these same well-educated voters leave the House of Representatives in control of the Republicans? Were they only smarter about the presidential election and then became ignorant about their governors and their House representation?
Moeller’s premise reflects the ideology of the overly educated liberals in America who believe the rest of us are not their intellectual equals and, therefore, they must take care of us in their utopic socialistic state.
We have here a classic case of someone coming to a conclusion and then finding statistics to support it. I do not wish to engage in a battle of statistics; I want only to deal in the truth of the matter. And the truth is that smart and well-educated people on both sides voted for their candidate, and President Obama won.
Being one of the uneducated masses, I hesitate to burst Moeller’s bubble, but even Harry Truman, perhaps the Democrats’ best president, was not a college graduate, and he was famous for saying “the world is ruled by C students.”
I encourage Moeller to review his position regarding what group of individuals actually was responsible for re-electing President Obama. I believe if he takes the time to break down the election in detail that he will find out that it was not the intellectual elite who kept Obama in office. It was the uninformed voters who kept him there, and the majority of these folks are not college grads, either.
Rodney Pearson Sr.