Movers and Shakers
“We’re changing the face and the look of the south end of Hagerstown,” says Laurel Kahn, immediate past president of the very active Historic City Park Neighborhoods 1st group that meets at Emmanuel United Methodist Church. “I want to bring back the integrity and the beauty of the neighborhood,” says Laurel, who moved to this “faded glory,” park-east area seven years ago. Seeing a cause in search of a firebrand, Laurel, a singer, band promoter and electrical service contractor, got the city to close off a street in 2009, booked her band, sought food donations and threw a block party with the city’s 50-acre, historic park as a western backdrop. “My vision was to get all my neighbors together — and I did,” Laurel remembers.
Afterward, she was elected first president of the largest (by physical coverage area) Neighborhoods 1st group — and that’s when Laurel and her group really got things rolling. Quickly, they helped raise $12,000 in material donations and $600 in funds for an infrastructure program that includes installing decorative street signs neighborhood wide and seven welcoming columns along Virginia Avenue, lobbying for a mini-traffic circle at Summit and Reynolds Avenues, and enlisting volunteers to erect a gateway sign — if approved — at park circle. To date, three signs have been installed, and additional lighting has been added to neighborhood alleys and along the park periphery, according to Heather Holman, Laurel’s successor. In addition, 12 trees have been planted on Reynolds Avenue, “traffic-calming” striping was placed at the Reynolds-Summit intersection, and the group’s website (www.historiccitypark.com) is being improved to accommodate ads by local businesses.