Residents, project designers exchange ideas for future “Cultural Trail” in Hagerstown

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Over the next decade, city officials in Hagerstown have eight catalyst projects that aim to revitalize the downtown area. One of those is the “Hagerstown Cultural Trail,” which would connect City Park to the Arts & Entertainment District.

Some believe this is just what the city needs to grow and attract visitors.

“Nine of the top 10 cities in Maryland have a public art program,” said city engineer Rodney Tissue. “Hagerstown does not…we’re probably the one that does not.”

But that might not be for long. The city is nearing approval for the cultural trail, which would be a destination for creativity and tourism. Officials aim to begin construction in April, and complete the first phase by September.

Designers said this could mirror the Carroll Creek project in Frederick, which pumped millions of dollars into public and private development.

“Public art is something that makes people attached to their community,” Tissue added. “It gives them a reason that they want to live here, and gives them a reason for why they would want to stay here.”

On Monday evening, area residents met and shared ideas for what they would want to see out of the trail. Concepts on the table include everything from photographs, paintings and sculptures, to more unique creations like interactive scavenger hunts and living, organic buildings.

“I would love to see big, artistic playgrounds for kids and adults,” said Washington County resident Sam Leiter. “An amphitheater would also bring people together. Those things are important.”

“There is a real appetite for innovation and new ideas, and trying new things,” said William Cochran, an art consultant from Frederick who is working on the project. “And also taking a few risks in order to change the future.”

Next month, the project will go under official review by Mayor David Gysberts and City Council. Construction of the trail is estimated to cost about $1 million.

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