Movers and Shakers
â€œWeâ€™re changing the face and the look of the south end of Hagerstown,â€ says Laurel Kahn, immediate past president of the very active Historic City Park Neighborhoods 1st group that meets at Emmanuel United Methodist Church. â€œI want to bring back the integrity and the beauty of the neighborhood,â€ says Laurel, who moved to this â€œfaded glory,â€ 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 cityâ€™s 50-acre, historic park as a western backdrop. â€œMy vision was to get all my neighbors together â€” and I did,â€ Laurel remembers.
Afterward, she was elected first president of the largest (by physical coverage area) Neighborhoods 1st group â€” and thatâ€™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 â€” if approved â€” 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, Laurelâ€™s successor. In addition, 12 trees have been planted on Reynolds Avenue, â€œtraffic-calmingâ€ striping was placed at the Reynolds-Summit intersection, and the groupâ€™s website (www.historiccitypark.com) is being improved to accommodate ads by local businesses.