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Police station plan upsets merchants; Officials hope to move headquarters into former City Hall; 'Parking is so limited'; Opponents promise to seek community, state support on safety


Noting traffic safety and parking concerns, two Taneytown merchants vowed yesterday to enlist state and community support to fight any attempt to relocate police headquarters across East Baltimore Street from City Hall.

City officials said Monday that a bid to buy the former City Hall at 16-18 E. Baltimore St. appeared to be successful.

Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said he favored having the 10-member Police Department move rather than relocate the city's administrative staff, which shares space with police at 15-17 E. Baltimore St.

Marvin Flickinger, who is not related to the mayor, owns Flickinger Barber Shop at 10 E. Baltimore St., where he lives. He said he vehemently opposes the mayor's intention to shift police headquarters to his side of the street.

"We don't need police cars parked in front of our businesses, and that's what would happen if police move across the street," he said. "The public meters are not sufficient for business patrons, and some would have to be removed to allow the police to park for quick departures on calls."

Police Chief Melvin Diggs was unavailable yesterday. Last week, he said he did not favor moving his agency, but would wait to see what the mayor and City Council decide.

Marvin Flickinger said he had called State Highway Administration officials, asking that they investigate what safety problems might arise.

Police officers park on the north side of the street in front of headquarters or on a small lot west of headquarters.

"They now have a wide apron [at the lot entrance] to see traffic in both directions," he said. "Even if vans or trucks are parked at meters, they can pull out without too much trouble. If they move over here, I'm afraid they won't see traffic, or pedestrians, especially kids and older people, coming along the sidewalks."

David Fitzgerald, owner of Spanky's restaurant at 12 E. Baltimore St., agreed.

"Parking is so limited as it is," he said.

Possible petition drive

Fitzgerald, whose brother Shane owns Bowhunter's Den next to Spanky's, said he would support starting a petition drive to persuade city officials to leave the Police Department where it is and relocate the city's administrative offices.

His brother was unavailable for comment, Fitzgerald said, but he would support business owners who plan to attend the Feb. 8 monthly meeting of the mayor and City Council to raise their concerns.

Options for police access to a new headquarters are limited.

Parking space behind 16-18 E. Baltimore St. can accommodate four vehicles.

The mayor speculated that the council might consider razing a city-owned house on the east side of the property being acquired so a driveway could be added to provide police access to and from East Baltimore Street.

Marvin Flickinger scoffed at that suggestion.

"That would just create another alley for pedestrians to cross when coming along the sidewalk," he said. "Police officers in a hurry will be watching for traffic and not see kids running or on bicycles."

Hoping for state help

The best hope for business owners, he said, is that state officials will put safety first and not allow the city to add a driveway or alter the one-way, north-to-south direction of Benner Lane. Benner Lane, about 60 feet east of the property being acquired, is about 13 feet wide.

Children play there, Marvin Flickinger said, and it's too narrow for cars to pass.

"If police move and need access to the main street, the one-way direction would have to be switched," he said. "I've lived here for 30 years and know that it was made one-way years ago because of a number of accidents that occurred as cars pulled out onto East Baltimore Street.

"Over the years, I've seen a hundred near misses and several kids who were struck, including a little girl hit by a pickup truck last year. Allowing that to happen again would be a major mistake."

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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