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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

IMPROVED STADIUM PROPOSAL STILL A BURDEN TO TAXPAYERS

   The mayor and city council have changed. The proposed location of the new Suns stadium has changed. The process seems to have changed. The public funding and crony Capitalism continue. 
   Majority owner Bruce Quinn finally addressed the mayor and council yesterday. He began by reading a lengthy prepared statement at an amazing speed, followed by a lot more fast talking that was hard to follow. The mayor and council had the advantage of a handout of the presentation. Council member Munson requested a copy of his written opening remarks. Just to be clear, I am not insinuating the negative connotation of a "fast talker." The man just talks fast! 
   He began with the obligatory congratulations on the election. A special thanks was given to council members Metzner and Brubaker for standing with him from the beginning and continuing to support the project. He even had a "mom story" for council member Nigh...she didn't look moved by it or impressed. 
  He then said he would give a 9-month summary of events, as if any of us needed one. He started with the word "misconceptions" and that always raises a red flag with me. That usually means nobody bought the intended perception. Right off he intimates that the Washington Nationals would not allow the Suns to play at a renovated Municipal Stadium. That is not true. They will not allow use of Municipal Stadium in its current state, but they are open to using it if it were upgraded. 
  He wanted to make a few things clear:
1. The Suns owners offered no advice on the location of the Baltimore Street site. 
2. The Suns were not involved in any way with the mystery donor.
3. The Suns provided no input of the first rendering of the site on Baltimore Street.
4. The Suns have incurred $200,000 in legal fees on their own behalf and on behalf of the City as well.
5. The City has not done its part by applying to the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) for funds.

   Admittedly, I am no expert on sports, sports facilities, or the MSA. I just wanted to know if applying for funds from them is applying for taxpayer money. It doesn't state that anywhere on their website, but after several on-line searches, I think I am safe in saying yes it is taxpayer money. The only site that clearly states that is Wikipedia: 
The Authority is a public corporation of Maryland which is authorized to issue tax-exempt bonds for financing its operations. The proceeds from the sale of those bonds and any other revenues collected are deposited in the Maryland Stadium Authority Financing Fund. 
   Mr. Quinn then rattled off a list of expenditures that the Suns have paid as if we should be grateful that he is maintaining his own business environment. That works for a lot of people, but I think those expenses are to be expected. Even if Municipal Stadium is in bad shape, and we all know it is, surely he knew that when he bought the Suns and afterall, he only pays $1 annually in rent.
   The Suns, via Mr. Quinn, is now proposing the East End as a site for a new Suns stadium. Congratulations to those community activists who fought hard to protect their neighborhood! He  said it would remedy the blight on the East End and I agree. I did find it a strange argument to say in the original proposal that we will take this "great prospect" out of one neighborhood and place it in another in order to revitalize it. Anyway, he wants the city to demolish Municipal Stadium, demolish the Municipal Electric Light Plant (MELP), and perhaps buy or gain use of the 1st Urban Fiber plant. He wants a new multi-use facility (Suns stadium) near the old stadium site. According to Quinn, "these are all things that the city needs to do anyway." 
   When he spoke of the proposed financing of this new vision, he was talking so fast that I need to purchase the DVD of the meeting so that I can capture all that he said. I wish that I had a copy of the handout. The Herald Mail printed some figures, but I've learned that  I can't rely only on them for information. I do know that he said that he is willing to put up the initial $3M to get things started. Thank you Mr. Quinn! So very generous of you.
   Most of the council discussion was between known proponents council members Metzner and Brubaker. There were no surprises there, except for the repeated call for open public meetings going forward. Council member Munson stated that during his door-knocking campaign the public expressed displeasure with site location, but that all wanted to retain the Suns. Council member Nigh remained silent, and I would have like to have heard from her. 
   I was really waiting to hear from council member  Alshire who is known for his thoroughness of research,  thoughtful consideration, and conservative financial practices. This is what he said, 
"It comes down to two things: limitation of resources and reasonable fairness."
 Mr. Quinn had this deer in the headlights moment and stammered that he'd have to think about that for a minute. [Wait, is somebody actually stopping to think? Where is the unconditional love? Wasn't expecting intelligent discussion. What do I do?]  Council member Alshire went on to say that the limitation of resources was satisfactory to him if the project proceeds on the East End and if the city continues to build on an education theme in the Hagerstown core. As far as reasonable of fairness he did not think that the cost of the original proposal was reasonable nor the financing of it fair. The cost kept escalating and private investment was not forthcoming. The proposed cost of the new proposal seems more reasonable to him. However, he would like to see the city's $400,000 contribution divided between the project and the city's core. In addition, he would need at least one third of outside private investment (currently missing from this proposal) before he could vote to proceed. The Hagerstown TEA Party's stance is that it should be 100 percent privately funded, but council member Alshire's statement is at least a move in the right direction. Unfortunately, with the required expediency (before the 1st pitch of next season) I don't get the feeling that the mayor and council as a whole will hold out for that one third if it doesn't materialize. I think that Metzner, Brubaker, and Munson will be the key players in this arena.
   Mr. Quinn did have some remarks about the Suns being a business that should get special treatment from the city:
"The Suns team is more than a business. The Suns provides income to at least 100 other businesses. The new facility will be more than a Suns stadium; it will be a recreation center for the city."
I think there are similar businesses and projects that could stand equal to the Suns in that regard and I still think that they should not receive public funds in order to enrich their business and themselves. Mr. Quinn stated that he is not in it for the money. Really? He claims to have never made a cent on the Suns. That sounds like a bad investment to me. He claims he doesn't care if he ever makes a cent of off the Suns. Can we get that in writing?  
   In summary, I like the proposal. I think it would be a fantastic opportunity to clean up the East End in a big way.  I'm not convinced that restoration of Municipal Stadium isn't the better and less costly idea. According to their website, the MSA encourages historical restoration. I remain firm that the Suns business should provide the majority of the financing with private investors joining them in the associated cost and risk of this project. The city will make money on the taxes and utilities just as they do on every other business in Hagerstown. The taxpayer doesn't have the money, not on any level of government, and should never bear the risk associated with private investment. 



   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WASHINGTON COUNTY DELEGATION REBUKES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE



   Note: After seeing how the Herald Mail down played what happened at the pre-legislative forum, I realized that perhaps I had as well, so I decided to edit at least the title of this blog to reflect the epic rebuke that actually occurred.

    I attended the Washington County Delegation  Pre-legislation Forum hosted by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce (COC) this morning. I am sure that  I was not the only one expecting it to be a rather dull Q&A session where the audience asks the questions and the delegation attempts to provide answers. Certainly, the Democratic-leaning COC expected to control their meeting. Instead, the meeting turned into what one man at my table laughingly called "a blood bath." It was nothing short of a skillful takeover, or maybe in football terms, an interception. I almost stood up and shouted!
   First, this was the first time that "Hagerstown TEA Party" appeared on my name tag. It used to be fun being incognito as just Jane Doe citizen at these events, but I guess my cover is blown now, so I did fill in the Organization blank on the registration form this time. I have to give the person in charge of name tags props though for putting in parentheses "non partisan." It's usually assumed that us TEA Party people are just an arm of the Republican Party. I'm doing my best to dispel that myth. I have heard many Republicans and Conservatives say that they avoided the COC events because they are so partisan. On their website their vision statement says, "To be the preferred advocate and recognized voice of business in the greater Hagerstown-Washington County area." It is supposed to be unaffiliated with any party, but it is widely thought of as an arm of the local Democratic party. This could be a topic for another blog post. 
    Only Senator Shank, Senator Edwards, Delegate Serafini, and Delegate Myers attended. I didn't expect no-show Delegate Donoghue to attend, but I was disappointed that Delegates Parrott and Hough were not there. Turns out Delegate Hough was at the hospital being introduced to his new baby girl! With only four of the delegation in attendance, I wondered if there would be anything to blog about at all. It didn't take long to see that this was going to be more fun than I've had in a long time!
   The delegation skillfully took charge of the meeting. The chairman of the Delegation, Andrew Serafini, spoke first. He introduced himself as a business man and "financial guy" and stated that the state, and really every level of government, is faced with a huge challenge in regards to budgets, debts, and deficits. His only hint of the direction that this meeting would take was to say, 
"These forums are where we all need to have open discussions about our challenges. Here is where we may disagree on issues, but when we get to Annapolis we have to be coordinated and speak with one voice."
   Delegate Myers came to the podium next and things started to get interesting! He began with an acknowledgment  that now that the election is over business people know what they can expect for the next four years. He stated that he expects Congressman Delaney to work with our delegation and to be seen in Western Maryland. He said there are big issues ahead, but locally he expects one will be the revitalization of Hagerstown and how a stadium may be part of that process. Then he made everyone sit up and listen when he said,
"We don't have the cooperation of the chamber. We are Republicans that represent a Conservative area of the state. All of us received over 70 percent of the vote in this area and we must represent those who elected us. We are here, so you need to work with us. We need a report from the COC on issues and we don't get one. The COC Chair should be present in Annapolis and is not. The COC lobbyists should be at our weekly meetings and are not. We need cooperation with this COC."
I still didn't see the takeover coming.  I expected that any minute the guy with the mic would be taking questions. 


   Senate Edwards spoke next. He's a likable, funny kind of guy that serves District 1, which only includes a small portion of  Washington County. He travels a long way to participate in events in our county. He probably hasn't had to participate much in the political tug-of-war that goes on here, but he didn't go without admonishing the Chamber on one point.  He said that he attended a three-hour public meeting last night in Allegheny County and that he has a good relationship with the Allegheny County and Garret County Chambers of Commerce.  He suggested that this Chamber should work closer with those two bodies, since people often come from those counties to spend money here. He also asked those in attendance to "speak up" and let this Chamber know when it doesn't agree with the State Chamber of Commerce.  He then named a few important issues that he sees as being important this year: the structural deficit, transportation funding and sharing the burden (gas tax, mass transit tax, or mileage tax), broadband coming to Western Maryland, slots, and the management of natural resources. 
   Senator Shank officially took over the meeting and went full offense! First he commended the Chamber and other related groups for consulting economist Anirban Basu to address our "profound problems", calling him brilliant . Shank then referred to a chart that ranks states in regards to being business-friendly and pointed out that Maryland ranked significantly worse than our neighboring states and even worse when compared to Virginia. He stated that the numbers are disturbing, and that since we do border other states, many businesses have relocated to those states due to increased taxes and regulations. He said that the business climate here is just "wrong." Then he said to the Chamber,
"What are you going to do about these things? This delegation has been rated 100 percent as voting in favor of businesses. We are doing all that we can do. What are you going to do? You may say, "Shut up Shank, because if you say these things we won't get our share." I reject that and the COC should also! Work with us. The alternative is to give up, let businesses continue to leave, but keep our hand out to the state for handouts. We can't continue down that path. "
Shank went on to say,
"We have great potential here. But I have to ask this COC, What is your mission? Your mission statement says advocacy. We need you to show up in Annapolis, write, and testify. I have begged you with little to no response regarding the proposed gas tax." 
He listed several bills that they fought for in support of business (too quickly for me to note). This was a Conservative blogger's dream! I was taking notes as fast as I could. He also stated that they were able to kill bad bills that would have been bad for business. He finished by saying,
"Can we continue without you? If advocacy is truly your mission, I hope that you have an aggressive strategy and that you will be an aggressive advocate. Together we can do this."
   I looked around the room and some were as elated as I was, but many were scowling. This was completely unexpected and well...wonderful! This is the kind of dialog that has to happen, in public, to get everyone off of the partisan treadmill and working together. Call them out! Are you with us or against us? The Frederick Chamber of Commerce supports their Delegation. They work together and work through disagreements to get things done. Why invite your elected officials to your forums for a charade if you are not going to work with them? By this time there was only time for two questions:

Question 1. Gay McGovern [name provided by someone at my table who was visibly in pain] made a statement before asking her question. I do not know if she is affiliated with the Chamber or a business owner. Her statement leads me to think that she is affiliated with the administration of the Chamber. She said,
"We have provided no report? I thought that we have. We thought that we were communicating. I don't know why our lobbyists are not attending your meetings."
That seemed a very weak defense, but a defense none the less. Then her question,
There is money that should be coming to our county and it's going to go somewhere else. [He just said that he rejects that philosophy!] Do you have specific suggestions for improving communication?
Answer 1.  Shank: We used to receive FAXs from the COC and this helped us directly on bills and issues. We need a report from you on where you stand on issues. I have asked for this at every level from committees on up and behind closed doors. Maybe asking publicly will make a difference. Myers: In Frederick County the COC lobbyists attend the delegation meeting every week. We are going to get our fair share. I want to hear from you weekly. Step into our offices and say hello. Killing bills that will hurt businesses is important also.

Question 2. Mary [last name unknown] said that she had attended a meeting where she heard a disturbing comment and it was that Montgomery County is the economic driver of the state and as Montgomery County goes so goes the state. How do you counter that in Annapolis?

Answer 2. Edwards: They try to run the state. He said that he has been told in a committee that "you are getting enough" when asking for a $100,000 and then two seconds later Montgomery County asked for millions and got it without any discussion. They try to take over the Marcellus Shale issue as an environmental issue. He repeated his earlier recommendation:
"We have to be in close communication with Allegheny and Garret county governments, that is, respectful communication. We have gotten a fair amount. Please send testimonial to Annapolis, especially when you don't agree with the State Chamber of Commerce."

   Delegate Serafini closed the meeting stating, 
"I hope that this has been the start of a dialog." 

Me too!!!! However, by the body language and small talk in the room, I have my doubts. I was surprised that Chamber president, Brien Poffenberger, remained silent. It appears he was still short on words for the Herald Mail interviewer. I wonder if this is going to be one of those situations for him where he thinks of things he should have said...long after it matters anymore, or if he is feverishly writing his defense of the Chamber and himself as president in an op-ed for the Herald Mail. One thing I do know, if he writes it, it will get published. 





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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A NEW BALL GAME IN HAGERSTOWN

    The new mayor and city council were sworn in last night. The air felt a little thinner in the council chamber. The thick stifling smog of arrogance was replaced with humble gratitude. It is a new beginning. The salesman has left the building.
  I feel like I can take a big sigh of relief knowing that the frenzied secret actions of the previous administration have come to a screeching halt. Although two of the council members who back the new stadium, its public funding, and its controversial location remain, the four newcomers either oppose it or approach it with some skepticism. This new administration could still vote to proceed exactly as previously proposed, but I am relieved that it will be at a slower pace and I believe that it will be a more transparent process.
     I have never been against a new stadium. Myself and the Hagerstown TEA Party (who I represent on this issue) have been against any public funding for this project and the appearance of crony capitalism. If the Suns invest most of the cost of the project and find private investors to join them, by all means, lets build a stadium! Others though are vehemently against the new stadium for various reasons: the location, or they want to save Municipal Stadium, or they are against the large price tag (regardless of the funding source) in this bad economy, or they do not believe it will revitalize downtown...just to name a few. Unfortunately the process became more of an issue than the project.
   I do not gloat that Mayor Bruchey lost the election. I voted for him every time that I had a chance to vote for him, that is, except for this election. I used to cheer him on as he rode down South Potomac Street in the Mummer's Parade. I agreed with him more often than not and I am grateful for his service.
   It was his leadership on this issue that changed everything for me. I understand that things had to move quickly at the start due to the possibility that the Suns could move to Winchester, VA. I also understand that perhaps there may have been cause for some secrecy concerning negotiations. I am sorry, but in my opinion that is where things quickly got out of control. The public was not informed about choices. The public was instead notified of  decisions already made on their behalf. That was a huge flaw in the process from the start! The Ripken Study was taylor-made to promote those decisions, which were 1.) Municipal Stadium will not be renovated, 2.) a new multi-use facility will be built, 3.) it will be located at Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, and 4.) it will be funded primarily with public funds.
    The Ripken presentation was the sales pitch that was the start of a concerted effort of the mayor and council, the city staff, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Herald Mail and various other groups to sell those decisions to the public with the mayor leading the way. This brought out the salesman in him. There is nothing wrong with being a salesman, and as mayor it is an asset to be able to sell your city. It was wrong to try to sell a pre-conceived $37M project to the taxpayers. The taxpayers should have had a say regarding those four decisions before they were made. Many were saying, "They aren't listening to us. They've made up their minds. They don't care what we want." No one was invited or allowed to present alternatives or facts that contradicted their sales pitch. Everything was geared towards that sell: the Ripken Study, the Municipal Stadium tours, the one community meeting with the questionable "facts." Most of the questions went unanswered that night.
    I found the whole process offensive and exhausting. The arrogance and outright disdain expressed by some for those who dared to oppose was hard to watch and hard to take. Now I feel like we can focus on the project and not the process. We may even wind up with a multi-use faciltity, built on Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue, paid for mostly by the taxpayer. Just treat the taxpayer with respect and honesty (THE SUNS OWNERS REFUSE TO PLAY AT MUNICIPAL STADIUM) and give all of us a chance to state our case and I will accept whatever the outcome. I may even go to a game. I may even like it.
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I AM VOTING FOR...

Today is Election Day! I am excited to exercise my right to choose who I want to represent me on every level of government. I think that since I blog my opinions, I sort of owe transparency on my voting choices. I have always voted Republican since Reagan's 2nd term, except for in local elections.  My involvement in the TEA Party since 2009 has changed me in that I am more open to other parties if they are the better candidate! This is how I plan to vote:

President
Mitt Romney

U. S. Congress
Roscoe Bartlett

U.S. Senate
Dan Bongino

Questions 4, 5, 6, & 7
NO

Mayor
David Gysperts

City Council
Jonathan Burrs
Larry Bayer
Kristin Alshire
Penny Nigh
Lewis Metzner

Non-partisan City Council Election
NO

I think that this city council will be a perfect balance of intelligence and experience with temperaments that will challenge one another enough to fight for the right outcomes, but not cause gridlock.  I hope that my Republican friends can forgive me for not voting straight party. Locally, it just doesn't make sense. That said, I think that we still need to know the party affiliations because it gives us insight on how they may govern when it comes to budgeting, spending, borrowing, and government regulations, etc.

However you vote...please vote today!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACTIVIST OVERNIGHT BUS TRIP AND
PRIVATE VIEWING OF ATLAS SHRUGGED PT 2!
 
 
WHAT: Door knocking and phone bank, fun and fellowship, and movie.

WHEN: Overnight Trip -Saturday November 3rd to Sunday November 4th

COST: $10 (Cost includes your hotel room, transportation, meals, T-shirt, and a private viewing of Atlas Shrugged Pt 2.) ONLY $10!!!!

HOTEL: Hampton Inn Cascades in Sterling, VA

BUS #2:
STOP 1-- Hagerstown, Sharpsburg Pike Park & Ride at 8am
STOP 2--Frederick, Park n Ride Rt70 and New Design Road (Exit 54) at 8:30 AM

LINK: To register click on http://prosperityknocksnova.eventbrite.com/.

CONTACT INFO: Nick Loffer at Nick@AFPMaryland.com or 410-603-1836, or Lynda Givens Evans at justlynda59@yahoo.com or 301-992-6943.

I AM NOT ASKING ANYONE TO STOP WHAT THEY ARE DOING IN MD!I appreciate all of the hard work that everyone is doing in our state.
 
BUT VIRGINIA COULD GIVE BHO'S FAILED POLICIES ANOTHER FOUR YEARS BECAUSE IT IS A CRITICAL SWING STATE.
If you have the time and feel led to join us in educating the citizens of Virginia on the differences between European-style Socialism and a free market system...join us and lets have some fun too!
 
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not AWOL and Definitely Not Defeated!

    I feel like I've been AWOL for almost three weeks. It seems I've actually been missed by those who love me, those who hate me, and those who love to hate me. I don't think I have gone a day without thinking about politics and issues, attending meetings, or at least posting on social media for at least the last four years. I have to admit that after the so-called open-forum community meeting on the proposed new Suns stadium on October 9th, I was feeling a little jaded. I think my final posting afterwards was, "Pollyanna has left Hagerstown." At the time I didn't know that circumstances would actually cause me to leave Hagerstown and politics for a short time.
   I took an unexpected trip to Texas for a week for work. The night that I returned I went directly to the hospital in Glen Burnie, MD where my aunt was not expected to make it through the night. She died at 9:15am the next morning. Of course there was a viewing and funeral to follow. I rushed home to prepare for the traditional Mummer's Parade party at my house that my family and friends look forward to every year while working from home. These three weeks have been a blur. So while I was feeling disillusioned with obnoxious liberals, self-important conservatives, my city, my local elected officials, the local media and myself to name a few...I have not nor will I ever give up!
   I want to go back to that community meeting that was to be a forum where we could get "the facts" concerning the stadium and not the negative assumptions of us neurotic naysayers. The facts were going to be provided on tables according to subject (i.e., traffic). We had from 3:00pm-6:00pm to review these facts and then city staff would present them in the form of a video and oral presentations from our local experts for about 30 minutes. Then we would have all the time we needed to ask city staff and elected officials questions and get the much awaited answers. Well not all the time we needed. We each were allowed 3 minutes. We had an official timer. They got six months, and on our day they got 3.5 hours with no counter presentation allowed and we got 3 minutes.
   Let's just take a look at the one information table on traffic as related to the stadium. You would have thought that the traffic and parking issues were all addressed and ironed out. We do not have to worry about traffic flow or parking for those visiting or for those who live around the proposed site. Maybe unicorn driven carriages would deliver people to the front door of the stadium! I found this so remarkable because I am on the Board of Traffic and Parking for Hagerstown and I haven't seen anything regarding the stadium come across our table. Yet, the implication was that this has already been proven not to be a problem. This bothered me.
   Then the Q&A began. The elected officials and city staff sat upon a platform with skirted tables. The citizens, for and against, had to approach a podium and look up at this very impressive  panel with a timer flashing green, then yellow, then red. Do you get the feeling? Am I describing it in enough detail so that you feel what I saw and felt as I sat in the audience. This bothered me.
   I guess this is where I must talk about Suns minority owner Anthony Dhabura. [Hi Tony! Mr. D told me that he reads this blog when he coincidentally found himself outside of my humble abode on the parade route on the South End last night.] First let me be clear that I have no problem whatsoever with the owners demanding a new stadium. If you can do it and get away with it more power to you! What I have a problem with is the absolute refusal of the city staff, our elected officials, our community leaders (usually self-proclaimed) and our local media to report that they are demanding a new stadium. They have instead colluded to base this proposal for a new stadium on the false claims that Municipal Stadium cannot be upgraded and/or that the Washington Nationals are requiring a new stadium. If I had not attended the one City Council meeting where Councilman Metzner said openly that it was the Suns owners who were demanding a new stadium I would have never known it. Metzner said that when they first met with the owners they went into the meeting with the understanding that the Washington Nationals would work with an upgrade, only to find out that the owners would not. He said, "it was as if the right hand wasn't talking to the left hand." So why can't the public know this? Why the big effort to make it look like something else? I think it is because they know that the people of Hagerstown do not take very kindly to being bullied. If the people know the truth they may reject the proposal. This bothers me.
   Back to the community meeting and Mr. D. I was one of the first to sign in before the meeting as present and as interested in speaking. I'm signing in with head down writing and suddenly there is a face looking up into mine and it says hi. Yep, Mr. D. I thought it was a little peculiar since we had never been introduced before and I didn't think he knew me. As I said I was one of the first to sign in, but I was number twenty-something to be invited to the podium. Just saying. I was sitting at the end of a row as was Mr. D and his female guest. We were separated only by an aisle. There was an elderly man speaking at the podium before the impressive panel and the official timer. He seemed oblivious to the timer and went over his allotted three minutes. Everyone started to bristle and sigh and become quite uncomfortable. Just as I look over at Mr. D he says "Time!" and his companion wags her head in agreement. He wasn't the only one who said it, but he said it. This bothered me. This bothered me alot.
   Finally it was my turn to go before the impressive panel and the official timer. I am not a speaker and I am uncomfortable speaking in front of people. I have to admit that I was angry by now because many of the questions went unanswered and because I thought it was unconscionable for the owner to so brashly limit the time of a concerned citizen, not to mention an elderly man, when this community has been patiently waiting for their turn to be heard. So I said so. Then I only had one two-part question, "When did the conversation change from a $9M-$10M "extreme makeover" of Municipal Stadium as reported in the Herald Mail one year ago to a $30M-$40M new stadium, and isn't it true that it is the Suns owners who are demanding a new stadium?" I looked up at this impressive panel and waited for an answer. Not one of them spoke. They all looked like they needed to puke. I stood there awkwardly waiting for someone to answer me, but the official timer flashed red and I sat down without the decency of a response. This bothered me.
   Then I hear Mr. D trying to be recognized to speak. He looked like an elementary school child who needed to be excused to go to the bathroom. Finally he gets called on to speak and I was waiting for a moment of truth. No, I didn't get it. Instead, he in essence publicly called me a liar. He denied calling time to the elderly man who went over his alloted time. I guess I had auditory and visual hallucinations. OK lets say I give him that one. I thought I heard and saw him call time to an elderly gentleman, but I didn't really. The next one was unbelievable. He said that he did not demand a new stadium, that it was in fact the elected officials and community leaders who came to him and convinced him that they needed the new stadium! So either Metzner and myself are lying or Mr. D is lying. It is that simple. I left there, after arguing with an emissary of Mr. D's in the parking lot for a half an hour, thinking that I was pretty sure that Metzner was not a liar. I didn't know if he slipped and said it that once and I'd never get him to admit it again or not. The chances were real good that I was going to be made to be a liar. The effort to cover up this one important fact was so unified and fortified that it seemed hopeless. That is when I posted that Pollyanna has left Hagerstown.
   Mr. Metzner and I serve together on the Board of Traffic and Parking. The board met two days after the community meeting and at the end of the meeting I asked the board about the rosy traffic implications that were presented at the community meeting. I was told that no the board had not yet addressed the stadium and related traffic issues. Mr. Metzner said  he would like to talk to me about the stadium and talk we did directly following the meeting. He started off admitting that he "is a big spending Liberal" and he doesn't deny it. That was refreshing. I told him that I am the VP of the Hagerstown TEA Party and that I voted for him in the last election. I think that threw him a little. We both talked vehemently about government spending, crony capitalism, grant money being tax money, and the general finances related to the new stadium. Then we talked about the process. I asked him straight out if I had heard him right in that meeting when he said that the Suns are demanding a new stadium. Wait for it...YES! I couldn't believe my ears. I then said, Tony Dhabura got up and spoke at the community meeting and...Metzner finished the sentence...lied! Hallellujah! Mr. Metzner and I had a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion and when we were finished we parted friends. He didn't have an answer as to why he let the lie go uncorrected in the meeting, but he promised to let it be known from that day forward. I haven't heard it said...yet. I am still hoping that he will be true to his word. That is all I want is for the people to know the whole truth and for the people to make a decision based on the truth. We elected them to represent us. We didn't crown them as kings and queens. To represent us they have to hear us, respect us, and consider what we want them to do for us as representatives of this community. 
   As I noted earlier, I ran into Mr. D outside of my home at the Mummer's Parade, and as I also noted I have nothing against him demanding a new stadium. I just want him and the powers that be to be honest about that fact. He offered to sit down and talk about everything. If I thought it could be as constructive as my talk with my new liberal friend, Councilman Metzner, I would love to talk to Anthony Dhabura. But that could just be apples and oranges [a favorite saying of Mr. D's.].
  
  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Citizen Think Tank on the Proposed New Stadium

     Tonight I was invited to attend an impromptu meeting of community leaders and candidates for mayor and city council who are concerned about the proposed new Suns stadium...for whatever reason. Since the community meeting tomorrow night is a presentation by the current elected city officials who have already decided that a new stadium is the best path for the Hagerstown community and taxpayers, I wanted to attend a pre-meeting where I could actually have a voice. I was told that the media would be there. I had my doubts that they would show, but they did. I am anxious to see if it was covered adequately and fairly.
     Those running for office who were in attendance were David Gysperts (D) for mayor and five candidates for city council: Penny Nigh (D), Jonathan Burrs (R), Kristin B. Aleshire (D), Jeffrey Coney (R), and Chris Kelly (R). County Commissioner Terry Baker (R) was in attendance but left early. Also in attendance was myself representing the Hagerstown TEA Party; three residents of the C.W. Brooks Building, which is a 60-unit building for seniors located at 45 W. Washington Street; three long-time residents/homeowners on Summit Avenue; petition creators Barbara Hovermill and Julie Rivett; and four relatively shorter-term residents of the area.
   Ms. Rivett led the meeting and she started off by saying that this was a place to have our voices heard. She referred to Jonathan Burrs' description of the group as a "citizen think tank." It was a very informal and relaxed atmosphere. She asked that the meeting begin with going around the table and everyone introducing themselves and saying something about why they were there and that we end with the candidates each having time to share final thoughts on the stadium and also what they would recommend to revitalize downtown. I will combine the candidate's beginning and ending statements together. I did not have time after the meeting to confirm the names of residents that spoke, so I put in brackets the names that I heard.
   The residents from the C.W. Brooks Building said that 50 out of 60 units are against the location for the new stadium. They feel that the current elected officials are not listening to them and that their mind is set. They feel that they do not care about seniors. 
   One long-term resident [Marsha Toder] thinks that it is odd that so many people are against the location for a variety of reasons and yet they proceed. Another long-term resident [Harold Wells], who has lived on Summit Avenue for 67 years was very passionate about what he calls "ground zero." Harold feels that it will be the final destruction of his beloved Hagerstown. He remembers the city as a thriving hub to surrounding areas that "had everything." His beloved YMCA and the hospital where many of our citizens were born have been destroyed. He feels that the town is dead. He is terrified to open his door after dark. There is already garbage, dead animals, and defecation between the houses there on Summit Avenue and he wonders what new horror this will bring. He is encouraged to see people in opposition meeting and getting active because he said, "I thought I was alone."
   One resident [Chris Coleman] stated that he is concerned about the fireworks and finances. He joked that there are already two questionable real estate deals that were recently made public. Why shouldn't he be suspicious of their insistence on this site? 
   Another man [Doug Zeruba] moved to Summit Avenue from Frederick. He spoke as a business owner stating that the Suns team is a business. Baseball is a business. It is a private business and he can't see why they are getting help from local government. He said, "It is like saying that I want to bring my jewelry business to town and asking them to build me a mall!" He said that for the price of the new stadium the city could give free rent to every empty store front for 10 years. This is a windfall for the team owners. Why don't we buy the team and upgrade the stadium? He claims that he wanted to bring his high-end jewelry business to Hagerstown and that the city kept trying to push him to open in the north end. He made the group laugh when he stated that he is a very liberal Democrat and yet he finds himself voting for a Republican and even agreeing with a TEA party person (I had just given my take on the project). I introduced myself briefly after the meeting to show him that I didn't have any devil horns growing out of my head. 
   Barbara Hovermill said that she has lived in the county since 1960, and she is often asked what is her stake in this issue. She said that she simply is a taxpayer. She feels that government has no place in this. If you can't afford it you shouldn't do it. Governments at every level from local to federal are not listening to the people. At the proposed site there are streams and rocks that will require blasting, yet they can't handle a little rock in the field and a little water? She says, and I concur, that the city has not kept up Municipal Stadium. It's a mess! She said that if we can put a man on the moon we can upgrade Municipal Stadium.
   Candidate Jeff Coney said that he does not see retail ever being a part of revitalization. He thinks those days are over and that it isn't the life cycle of American cities. He thinks that we need to draw professional service businesses, such as engineering and architectural ("white collar") services, and that some retail may rise up to support them. He thinks that the placement of the new stadium is inappropriate and not financially sound and that they "probably should stick to the current site." He said that if they do build a multi-use facility that it should include an exhibit hall for trade shows.
   Candidate Chris Kelly stated that the city should give grants to start-up businesses in the same way that they would secure a loan from a bank. He has concerns about the location of the proposed new stadium, and in particular, that the old church cemetery may still have bodies that weren't moved  because they were too decomposed when a past construction project necessitated relocating the cemetery. He thinks that Municipal Stadium should be refurbished instead. He also would support a small charge on the water bill to help pay for sidewalks. He thinks something should be done about the new recycle containers should not be allowed to sit out all week.
   Candidate Kristin B. Aleshire said that this kind of meeting is important and reminded us that he attended many of them when he was in office in times past. He then stated that there is a difference between opinion and fact. So far wherever he has heard discussion on the stadium it has been only opinion or conjecture. He needs to see a lease agreement, an environmental study, a financial plan, and an unbiased feasibility study before he can say if he is for or against it. He needs details. I wasn't clear, so I asked him, "So if these four things were proven favorable you would be for it?" He said "No! I will explain." I got the impression that he thought I was a TEA Party attack dog just for asking the question. I wanted to say, "Dude! I voted for you for county commissioner and I plan to vote for you for city council! Relax!" I just quietly listened to a lengthy explanation to why he voted to purchase the PNC Bank Building when he was previously in office. This was definitely off topic, but it was in the Herald Mail that morning so I just let him go. Like I said, it was lengthy with a convoluted thought process and a long-term plan that never happened because "it didn't make enough of the right people happy." OK. Then he finally tied his vision for an upgraded Municipal Stadium into that vision. In short it was to move the stadium property back further into Hager Park, knock down the electric plant, make the recycle plant pay the money it owes to the city, and move Hagerstown Spring Works to the now-empty electric plant lot. Then he wanted me, I guess the Conservative in the room, to answer for the local state delegation as to why they have been silent on this issue when they were so vocal against a mere $200,000 for the relocation of the Antietam Fire Company. I think they will be plenty vocal once it is presented to them next session. Asking me to speak for them seemed like a deflection from my question to him, but whatever.  My research tonight found  the following excerpt from a December 30, 2011 article in the Herald Mail on the subject: 
Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, attempted to get a $200,000 bond bill. 
But two Republican delegates who represent Washington County — Andrew A. Serafini and LeRoy E. Myers Jr. — lobbied the House's capital budget subcommittee to deny the request. They said Republicans in the delegation were opposed to bond-bill-funded projects because of the state's financial problems.
I am guessing that the local delegation is waiting until it is presented to them in session. We know that Delegate Donaghue is for the new stadium. He is the one local delegate who has no qualms about spending taxpayer money. Senator Shank and Delegate Serafini attended the first joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council to discuss the proposed stadium. For my account of that meeting go to http://liberatedconservativewoman.blogspot.com/2012/04/royal-sales-pitch-for-new-hagerstown.html
   Candidate Penny Nigh said that she is a good listener and  troublemaker. She said that we first need to know what money is available. We need to draw people in from outside the city. Developers tell this city what to do. A prospective business owner was told in the past that South Potomac Street "was taken," indicating that the developer in that block was controlling things and that the city likes to pick and choose .There is nothing for the seniors in the city anymore: no grocery store, no drug store, no hospital or urgent care facility, and no senior center. There is no urgent care because the hospital doesn't want one in the city. The city needs a full-time experienced grant writer. 
     Candidate David Gysperts stated that we need to change the way that we do business in Hagerstown because the process affects the product. The people should have more of a voice.  He thinks that it is suspicious and/or stupid not to have one regular citizen on the stadium task force. He wonders how the city can say that we need to build a new stadium at that site in order to revitalize downtown, yet take it from those on the East End. He is for upgrading Municipal Stadium. He said to make the water there an amenity instead of an enemy and that we need a broader vision for the city that isn't limited to downtown.  He thinks that the current administration tries to pick winners and losers with the approval process for new businesses. He said that people have been told that "we aren't interested in that type of business." He feels that the elected leaders are deaf and not listening to the people. The city needs to draw more people with disposable income to live in town. Because Hagerstown only has 42% home ownership, he thinks the city should revisit an old plan to build high-density town homes.  He believes that we need more "urban pioneers" that are professionals, artisans, and manufacturers. He suggested that we bring broadband to downtown and make it an e-hot spot for anyone living, working, or playing downtown. He thinks that city council meetings should be streamed free on-line instead of having to watch it on Antietam Cable.
   Candidate Jonathan Burrs said that the process has lacked logic. He has reached out to economists and none of this makes sense economically. He said he has enough information from economists to make a decision before seeing any report the city may produce. If you've done the research there is enough information. Studies show that there is more economic development potential with a historic upgrade than with a new stadium. A classic ballpark with a classic town theme would be something to build on. It has to be more than baseball. Ashville, NC developed around their proximity to the Appalachian Trail. Even a McDonalds there is a tourist attraction because it is so unique. Towns that take what makes them unique and develop a theme around it are successful. We need a comprehensive plan that is implemented in phases. In 1996 Hagerstown was rated as one of the top safest places in the country. In 1997 it started downward and now it is not even in the top 20 in Maryland. The opportunity is now. We also need to ask for the Marc train to come to Hagerstown for the commuters.
   I stated that I was there to represent the Hagerstown TEA Party and that we do not support public funding for this project. I feel that the Suns team is a private business that is getting preferential treatment. It is crony capitalism. As a homeowner and taxpayer I am outraged at the process that went awry when the Suns owners demanded a new stadium. The community was led to believe that the Washington Nationals would not be satisfied with an upgrade, but in fact they would be. It was the Suns owners who will not discuss the option of an upgrade. They want a new stadium and that changed the conversation from a $9M-$10M upgrade to a $30M-$40M new stadium. It was then that the city went into secret negotiations and came up with the plan to sell the new stadium concept to the community. The Ripken Study was a made-to-order one-sided presentation that was the kick-off to the new stadium campaign. The we-cannot-upgrade-Municipal-Stadium tours were part of that campaign. The city website was designed to promote the new stadium concept. Now tomorrow night they are finally having a community meeting to sell us on what they have already decided or they would allow someone like Jonanthan Burrs to also present the reasons to consider an upgraded Municipal Stadium. It is an insult and a scam on the community. 
   That said, everyone still needs to show up and be heard and make a public record of your questions and concerns. The meeting starts at 6:00pm at Hagar Hall to the rear of the Clarion Hotel at 901 Dual Highway. See you there!




 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

HAGERSTOWN STADIUM COMMUNITY SALES PITCH

   

   The community meeting concerning the new Suns stadium is officially scheduled for October 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm, located at the Clarion Hotel on Dual Highway. I am so pleased that the mayor and council changed the time from 5:00 to 6:00 to give people more time to travel from their workplace and participate in this discussion.
   However! Yes, however, I wish that it was more of a discussion rather than a sales pitch. The truth is that the powers that be have already come to a conclusion and now they are merely selling it to the community. The community, also known as the taxpayer and host to this new Suns stadium, has been left pretty much in the dark throughout this process. A community meeting, if it was truly meant to not only get the feedback of the community but also to consider it, should have been held at the beginning of the process. Another meeting halfway through the negotiations with the Suns owners and setting a plan for funding was in order as well. The community should have been told that the Suns owners were demanding a new stadium, not the Washington Nationals. Instead, it was none of our (residents and taxpayers) business! Now that the negotiations have obviously run their course and surveyors are seen on-site, the mayor and council now proceed to sell their deal to the public. It was a sales pitch from the start with the made-to-order Ripken Study and it remains a sales pitch with a salesman at the helm. The process had been flawed from the beginning and consequently has bred suspicion.
   Upgrading the Municipal Stadium...non-negotiable! Building it near an interstate...non-negotiable! Private funding...non-negotiable! The plan, or deal, is going to be "presented" with no counter presentation for upgrading Municipal Stadium, no counter-presentation for another site, and no-counter presentation on funding. It's is a sales pitch. The website is  promotional. It is an insult to the people of Hagerstown and to the taxpayer.
   Personally, as vice-president of the Hagerstown TEA Party, I am only concerned with the funding plan. As president of Neighborhoods 1st Locust Point, I am concerned with how the proposed site will affect my community. As a board member of the Board of Traffic and Parking I am concerned with traffic flow and adequate parking regarding this project. It is as a homeowner and taxpayer of the City of Hagerstown that  I am outraged that myself and others like me have been completely left out of the process.
   I guess we should be grateful that they are giving us their presentation and allowing us to speak. I would really be grateful if someone was allowed to present researched facts, case studies, and statistics that gives the community something else to consider, to weigh, to determine if it is worth the risk to proceed. Someone like Jonathan Burrs who has done the research could give a counter presentation. Then let the community take all of the information and come to a conclusion that they are comfortable with. You may say, "But he is running for City Council!" Yes, and the mayor is running for re-election and so are the incumbent council members! If after hearing both sides, the residents and taxpayers of this city overwhelmingly want to proceed as spelled out for them by mayor and council...so be it. I just think that the public deserves all of the facts and the respect to make a decision based on those facts.
   That said, if you would like a counter-presentation to the City's forgone conclusion based on demands from the Suns owners and dreams of a revitalized downtown (or re-election and a monument to ones self), please write to mayor and council and tell them that you want to hear both sides. They can be emailed at:


City of Hagerstown
One E. Franklin St. Second Floor,
City Hall Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: (301) 766-4175  


Thank you! I love Hagerstown and only want the people to be heard!!

 
   

Monday, October 1, 2012


JONATHAN BURRS IS THE VOICE OF REASON CONCERNING THE PROPOSED NEW STADIUM

He is not against baseball, but he is not for a new stadium at any cost! He has done the research on upgrading or even rebuilding old stadiums. He has done the research on the effects of new stadiums on urban economic development. HE HAS DONE THE RESEARCH AND BELIEVES THAT THE COMMUNITY SHOULD HAVE ALL OF THE FACTS AND BE A PART OF THE PROCESS.

"In my opinion, proponents of the proposed multiuse sports and events center in the intended location and who advocate using taxpayer monies to subsidize this project simply are not credible.  They have not done the research, they apparently do not understand the industry, and their positions are in contrast to eighty-six percent of educated working professionals on the economics of sports."

Go to www.jonathanburrs.com for more information! 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

THAT'S THEIR STORY AND THEY ARE STICKING TO IT

     
    As I look at my notes and think about the Municipal Tours tonight all that I can think is that they still aren't being honest with the people of this town. Overall, I personally and the Hagerstown TEA Party are really only concerned with the funding. I only care how they are going to pay for it, but as this process moves forward it becomes apparent that the flow of information to the public is being managed in a way that breeds suspicion. Tonight they doubled down and stuck to their story. The truth is that the tours and everything that they pointed out as deficiencies, and I have no doubt that they exist, are irrelevant because the Suns owners are demanding a new stadium. These tours were all smoke and mirrors. 
   As luck would have it though, I happen to be in the tour with one of the owners, Tony Dahbura. I wanted to ask him directly and publicly if it was true that the Suns playing in an upgraded Municipal Stadium was "non-negotiable" as I clearly heard stated in a city council meeting. It was stated that the Washington Nationals were willing to work with an upgrade and that they began their "talks" with the owners based on that understanding only to find out that the owners were not. Councilman Metzner stated that, "It turned out that the left hand hadn't been talking to the right hand." The owners of the Suns would not even discuss upgrading the old stadium. Winchester, VA was competing for the Suns at the time, so when the owners presented the multi-use concept as an economic and community development silver bullet to mayor and council, they pounced on it.  
    The Suns came up with this concept back in April of 2011 when they approached the mayor and council  and they approved a list of nongame-day events. According to the Herald Mail (HM), “The Suns sought to host additional events at the stadium to maximize its use, profitability and offerings for the communityGeneral Manager Bill Farley said. The new (Suns) ownership wanted to utilize it for more than just baseball." This is something they had as part of their business plan for a long time.  
   So we have the owners salivating over their financial prospects if they can just get the elected officials to build them their multi-use dream stadium using taxpayer funds. We have the elected officials scared to lose the Suns to Winchester, and I will assume that they really believe in this revitalization of downtown dream...and then off they go to figure out how to make all of their dreams come true. But they forgot about the people of Hagerstown. They forgot to ask them. They forgot to give them options. They forgot to get an unbiased study. Worst of all they forgot to keep them informed. Now the deal is all but done, and it's time to sell it to the people.
   For those of you who weren't able to attend this charade, I will try to paint you a picture. The evening began with the ever pleasant city staff. I have worked with most of these people as a city volunteer for several years now, and I know they are good people, and they have been very kind to me. I don't like being on opposite sides of this issue. This is not fun for me.  
  So City Manager, Bruce Zimmerman, opens with an introduction and acknowledges that there are many "sides" to this issue and mentions "respect" several times. He tells us that this administration has always stressed "living within their means." He gave some statistics to try to back that up and I am sure those statistics were valid, but there is no possible way that they can make that claim and then propose to spend way over $30M on a new Suns stadium in this economy and sound like they are leveling with us.  
   Next up, City Engineer, Rodney Tissue, who to me is the rock star of city employees. I don't know how he does all that he does! He is just doing his job and speaking to the packet that was handed out as we entered the stadium. He came at it from an ingenious angle. "Nothing in this stadium is older than 30-years-old except the bleachers." Good one! Kind of takes the historic out of Municipal Stadium for those who want to upgrade Municipal Stadium based on historic value. Sort of, but not really. Good try though.
   He says he wants to talk to us about "What are the conditions here that we are even having this conversation?" Uh, that would be that the Suns owners won't allow the city to fix these deficiencies because they want a new stadium!
   Then we are given the We Must Keep Up With The Joneses speech with color pictures of all of the amenities that other stadiums have and that we don't. I can hear myself telling my kids, "I don't care how many of your friends have that, we can't afford it!"
    Next are the color pictures of flooded conditions. I think at the last city council meeting someone asked how often has the stadium been flooded and he said "really flooded maybe three times." Three times in 80 years. He did state that there is some flooding  annually that causes game cancellations, but he didn't have any annual expenses paid out due to flooding. 
   We were told that it's not even about baseball. It is about community gatherings. No, pretty sure it's about baseball. I've been to Suns games. I may have a little small talk with a person or two, but it's no social event where everybody knows your name. 
   Finally we are given pictures of areas of the stadium in non-compliance or where there were recommendations for improvements. Mr. Tissue ends with, "The point is, you'd have to do a radical or complete upgrade." True. In December of 2011 the Herald Mail reported that the owners of the Hagerstown Suns would like to see construction on a $9 million to $10 million Municipal Stadium remodeling project beginning at the close of the 2012 baseball season. My how things changed when they got the upper hand with a bid from Winchester.
   I waited for city staff to say it, but they never did. All of these deficiencies can be fixed! The Washington Nationals are willing to let the Suns play at Municipal Stadium if they are fixed! The Suns owners will not play here under any circumstances (at least when Winchester was still interested). That's their story and they are sticking to it. Then we are taken on a tour to see these problems first hand. Like I said, I don't doubt that they exist, but they are smoke and mirrors tonight.  
    I will just mention that the crowd at this point wanted a Q&A from their seats and were getting quite vocal asking for it. There is no way to know who these people were or from which opposition group they were from...could have even just been individuals. I can say that it was not the TEA Party. Some of us had shirts and signs, but we were not yelling demands. I found it a little amusing that this one pro-new stadium woman yacked so much about how rude that those people were, and for so long, that I had to move away so that I could hear the tour!
    Now to the meat of the evening. The tour with Tony Dahbura. At the end of the tour people started to ask questions. I asked him directly, "Isn't this all irrelevant? Isn't it true that the Suns owners (he is one of four) will not allow the Suns to play here under any conditions?" He looked away and said, "I don't think so." Others asked how much it would cost to renovate the stadium and he said $15M (he said $9-$10M a year ago for an extreme makeover). I asked him again, if the $15M renovation was offered would he allow the Suns to play at this stadium. He said, "It's apples and oranges." Huh? What in the world does that mean? Finally, I asked him one more time, "So to be clear, is the possibility of the Suns playing at this stadium non-negotiable?" He said, very coldly, "Everything is negotiable. Do YOU have $15M?" 
    Well, Mr. Dahbura and company, do YOU have [way] upwards of $30M? No? And why should the taxpayer buy you, your business, an expensive stadium when this one can be renovated for half of the price? Why can't you get out there and do the work to get investors to invest in your business? Why can't you and the city partner together to get investors?
     Smoke and mirrors.  
    

   

HAGERSTOWN STADIUM TIMELINE


Note: All quoted information was taken from articles in the Herald-Mail newspaper.

DATE                                              ACTION

Sept [Oct] 2010         Hagerstown Baseball LLC (Bruce Quinn, Tony Dahbura, and Dr. Mitesh Kothari) buy the Suns.

Apr 5, 2011                 New scoreboard was installed at Municipal Stadium.

Apr 6, 2011                The Hagerstown City Council approved a list of nongame-day events that the new owners of the Suns plan to hold. According to the Herald Mail (HM), “The Suns sought to host additional events at the stadium to maximize its use, profitability and offerings for the community [multi-use facility concept was born], General Manager Bill Farley said. The new (Suns) ownership wanted to utilize it for more than just baseball."

July 22, 2011            Light pole fell onto the baseball field at Municipal Stadium during storm, causing the cancellation of the Hagerstown Suns' game.

Aug 5, 2011              Light pole replaced at Municipal Stadium, costing the city $30,000.

Oct 2011                    Owners receive letter from Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals concerning facility improvements that would be required [They would be willing to allow the Suns to play at Municipal Stadium with an upgrade.] to keep the Suns in Hagerstown. They requested that “the stadium be brought to compliance for player, coach and fan safety” to provide an “ability to continue player development and MLB rehab assignments.”

Dec 13, 2011            City officials pledged to support keeping professional baseball in Hagerstown with a $140,000 annual contribution. That $140,000 commitment would not take effect for the 2012 baseball season
                                                
                                   Washington County Commissioners were for a funding commitment during the "citizens' participation" portion of their meeting, but  the commissioners offered no response.


Dec 17, 2011            The HM reported that the owners of the Hagerstown Suns would like to see construction on a $9 million to $10 million Municipal Stadium remodeling project beginning at the close of the 2012 baseball season:  “Earlier this year, the owners paid a national sports facility architectural firm to create a concept for an extreme makeover of the stadium, Dahbura said. Now, they have concept drawings, price estimates and a proposed funding model — and, as of Tuesday, a pledge of $140,000 a year from the Hagerstown City Council. The last missing piece is a funding commitment from Washington County, Dahbura said.”

FUNDING PROPOSAL AT THIS POINT: According to the HM, “The proposed funding model called for $200,000 a year from the county in hotel-motel tax revenue, $140,000 a year from the city in hotel-motel tax revenue and other nongeneral-fund sources, and $200,000 to $230,000 a year from the Suns, Dahbura said. Those payments would continue over the course of a 20- to 30-year bond, he said…While the proposed funding model includes only county, city and Suns funding, state support is another possibility and would reduce the amount the other funders would need to pay, Dahbura said.”

STADIUM VISION AT THIS POINT:  According to the HM, “For the $9 to $10 million price tag, the owners could rebuild the stadium on its current site, eliminating those issues, or build a smaller, yet still adequate stadium on another site, Dahbura said. The extreme makeover concept created this year includes a two-tiered, covered seating area, more efficient concessions, a larger clubhouse, more seats as opposed to bleachers, improved field grading and more Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.”

To improve parking if the stadium stayed at its current location, Dahbura said it's too early to provide an exact plan, but there are several possibilities, including city-owned property nearby….The City Light Department owns several acres on Eastern Boulevard along Antietam Creek that are a possibility for expanded stadium parking, though no formal discussions have been held, Dahbura said.”

Dec 20, 2011            Hagerstown City Council approved an additional $50,000 from its capital improvement program for stadium improvements during this fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2012. The city’s total stadium improvement expenditure would be the $50,000 plus the $30,000 already budgeted for a total of $80,000 on stadium improvements, he said.

Jan 19, 2012             Owners signed letter of intent with Winchester, VA. Winchester planned to fund project with 100% private investments.

NEW STADIUM VISION: A NEW MULTI-USE STADIUM BUILT ON BALTIMORE & SUMMIT STREETS.

NEW FUNDING PROPOSAL: $30M WITH ONE THIRD PAYED BY THE CITY, ONE THIRD PAYED BY THE COUNTY, AND ONE THIRD PAYED BY THE STATE…WITH POSSIBLY SOME SUNS INVESTMENT OR OTHER PRIVATE INVESTMENT.

What happened to the $9M plan to upgrade Municipal Stadium?

Feb 13, 2012             The Washington County Commissioners voted 3-2 to contribute up to $20,000 in county funds toward a stadium design study at a cost estimated at $36,000, to be split between the city and county.

Feb 14, 2012             Hagerstown City Councilman William M. Breichner tells the Herald Mail that officials were discussing the area of the Baltimore Street Station Car Wash and The Herald-Mail parking lot off Summit Avenue as one possible site.

Feb 21, 2012             Ripken Design Contracted to do a feasibility study

Mar 6, 2012               Project Committee formalized with areas of work including a feasibility study, preliminary site analysis, website creation, research, and benchmarking.

March 12, 2012        Winchester, VA City Council rejects land transfer for new stadium.

Apr 17, 2012             Conditions of Letter of Intent with Winchester, VA must be met to solidify the lease agreement.



Apr 17, 2012             Ripken Design Feasibility Study Presentation at joint session of Mayor & City Council, Washington County Commissioners, and the State Delegation (Senator Chris Shank and Delegates Andrew Serafini and John Donoghue).
                                    Prior to the meeting, the HM quoted majority owner Quinn as saying, “The Suns had no choice but to look for alternatives/new stadium to maintain the professional relationship with the Nationals and the SAL.”
Ripken reps said during the presentation that Municipal Stadium was not considered in this study due to “site constraints.”

May 1, 2012              Washington County Commissioners met to discuss a county funding commitment to a new stadium. They ultimately voted (3-2) to "indirectly" commit to $400,000 a year. Instead of "directly" committing $400,000 a year on a 20-year investment, they decided to take over the city's $400,000 payment for the new Emergency 911 Center indefinitely.

May 1, 2012              Hagerstown City Council voted unanimously to match the $400,000 commitment by the county. 
Aug 9, 2012               HM reports that it “is looking doubtful that Suns will move to 
                                     Winchester, VA.”

Aug 28, 2012            Opposition group present 910 signatures to mayor and city council.

Sept 4, 2012              Revealed during a City Council meeting that the Washington Nationals did not demand a new stadium, but were in fact willing to work with an upgrade of Municipal Stadium. It is not site constraints keeping the Suns from playing at Municipal Stadium. It is the owners of the Suns who are refusing to let the Suns play at the Municipal Stadium.
                                    
                                   They decide to have a round-table discussion as a community forum to provide a more “controlled and quiet discussion.”
                                    
                                    They discuss the possibility of giving [deceptive] tours of Municipal Stadium to point out to the community all of the deficiencies, with the intent of convincing them that the only viable option is a new stadium.

Sept 4, 2012              Coucilmember Lewis Metzner announces that there is a $15M anonymous donation for the new stadium, but only if it is built on Baltimore Street.

Sept 5, 2012              Hagerstown TEA Party sends out an Action Alert to ask people to write to mayor and council to ask them to change round-table forum to a truly open forum for the community meeting.

Sept 11, 2012           City Council decides to scrap the round-table discussion and hold an open forum for citizen comments on October 9, 2012
at 5:00 p.m.

City Council approves plan to hold tours of Municipal Stadium on September 19, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.

Sept 17, 2012           Hagerstown TEA Party sends out 2nd Action Alert asking people to write to Mayor and City Council to ask them to change the start time of the community meeting to begin at 6:30 when more people would be able to attend because at 5:00 people are still traveling home from work or eating dinner.

                                    HTP sends out an invitation to “all tea partiers” to attend the This-Is-Why-We-Can’t-Use-Municipal Stadium Tour, with signs showing their displeasure with the process, the refusal to consider using Municipal Stadium, the Suns demanding a new stadium, and/or the public funding for the project.

Sept 19, 2012           City gives This-is-Why-We-Can’t-Use-Municipal Stadium Tours beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Oct 9, 2012                Tentative date for community meeting regarding stadium, to be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel on Dual Hwy.