Washington County Commissioner Wivell blasts Hagerstown Mayor Bruchey and Inaccurate Comments made by Herald Mail Reader

Wivell: Without compromise, bus transfer plan is a bad one


To the editor:

I could only read with amusement some of the on-line comments to the article concerning the recent bid award by the county for the construction of a transit stop and adjacent parking lot.

First of all, when the property was purchased by the County for $4.5 million (Commissioner Terry Baker and I were opposed) it was mentioned that part of the vacant parcel might be developed through a public-private partnership.

When I inquired as to the status of that initiative, I was advised that it could possibly be another five to 10 years before that became a reality. That being the case, I thought that it was foolish to spend almost $500,000 of the taxpayer’s money to curb and pave a parking lot when it could possibly be torn up in a few years.

I had instead suggested the use of a grass/turf permeable paver which would create a pervious area, thus allowing rainwater to soak into the ground rather than create additional stormwater runoff. Such pavers could be removed and re-used elsewhere if a higher and better use was later found for the parking lot.

The majority of the commissioners decided against this option, and instead chose a traditional curb and paved parking lot adjacent to the transit center. Had there been a willingness on the part of the majority to compromise on this issue, I believe that the vote would have been unanimous in support of the entire project; no commissioner opposed the transit project, which was grant-funded. The parking lot portion, on the other hand, is to be funded with county funds.

The first online comments were posted by someone who referred to themselves as MDSHA_D6, who I assume is an employee of the Maryland Highway Administration District 6.

This individual made several incorrect statements in his remarks. First, he stated that I suggested that I wanted to give the land to a developer. I never stated that I wanted to give the land to anyone. Rather, I suggested that a higher and better use for the parking lot portion might be a public-private partnership that utilized the ground level as parking while creating office space above.

Such action would restore the property to the tax rolls. Public-private partnerships seemed to work for the City of Baltimore in the revitalization of the Inner Harbor. Guess we would never want to try something like that here.

A second misstatement of fact by this individual was that a contractor need only place an ad in the newspaper to meet minority business enterprise requirements. This is not a true statement.

The third incorrect statement by this individual was that Commissioner Baker and I were opposed to mass transit. At no time during the discussion was such a statement ever made. I would hope that someone who works for the State of Maryland would get his facts straight before misleading the public through such erroneous statements.

Then we have Mayor Robert Bruchey, who resorts to name-calling in an attempt to make a point. Such immature behavior is a disservice to the residents of the City of Hagerstown who the mayor is elected to represent.

The mayor goes on to suggest that because something is budgeted, it should automatically be approved. Really? Blindly following a budget and not questioning a project when it is presented for award is quite possibly the reason that many governments find themselves in financial crisis today. I would seriously doubt that the Hagerstown City Council itself would follow such a practice.

The mayor further suggests that a nonpaved surface is totally unacceptable in the City of Hagerstown. So much for the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and all of those green initiatives!

I have personal knowledge of the use of pervious pavers in lieu of asphalt paving, and quite frankly, they work quite well in sustaining vehicles while allowing the rainwater to soak into the ground. It is short-sighted that the mayor or the city code would not allow the use of such a product. They would be especially valuable in this situation if a higher and better use is later found for this vacant portion of the property, rather than sinking a half million dollars of taxpayer money into something that later might be torn up. The pavers could be taken up and re-used elsewhere.

The mayor also suggests that the parking lot will revitalize this area of downtown. Really? That’s the best we can come up with – a surface parking lot? That might explain why there are a few foreclosures going on downtown right now.

And, then, we still have that abandoned building on the corner. Maybe that wasnot such a well-thought-out plan after all?

William Wivell
Washington County Commissioner


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