Light turnout shifts focus of Germantown Town Hall meeting

 Few people showed up for Saturday's meeting at Germantown Town Hall to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Few people showed up for Saturday's meeting at Germantown Town Hall to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood. (Queen Muse/for NewsWorks)

Conceptual artist Jacob Wick is not from Germantown, but that didn’t stop him from being inspired by one of its hidden treasures.

“I fell in love with this building,” Wick said of 90-year-old Germantown Town Hall. “My hope is that some kind of real steps can be identified for the public taking back this building at some point, but I don’t know how to make that happen.”

Vacant spot on a flagging block

With the temporary occupancy permit expiring June 30, Wick has arranged two meetings to discuss the building’s future, the first of which took place this weekend.

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He invited residents to explore “Topics of Great Importance” from a list of ideas submitted in person and online suggesting proposed uses for the building and thoughts about what matters most to the people of Germantown.

When only a few people showed up Saturday afternoon, with most not being from Germantown, the topic quickly shifted from what matters in the neighborhood to how to get people engaged in what matters.

“The idea for this meeting was to read through these ideas and see who might be interested in addressing each issue,” said Wick, “but that requires a critical mass of people that we just don’t have here.”

Discussion ensues anyhow

Despite low attendance, participants read through the some 56 submitted topics and attempted to identify any overarching themes among residents’ suggestions.

While many of the topics submitted were broad, they seemingly shared a desire to see the space used to bring some vibrancy back to the once-bubbling shopping district as a dance studio or community center.

Jill Saull, 65, has lived in Germantown for 23 years.

After the discussion, she remained uncertain about the future of her neighborhood.

“I think having conversations is always beneficial to articulate ideas and thoughts. Today’s conversation, I don’t know that there will be an outcome of it,” she said.

“I think that things are happening, and people are getting involved,” she continued. “I just don’t think that today’s specific event was attended by the people we hoped would come to it. I think something good could happen here, whether it will or not, I don’t know.”

Wick found a positive take.

“Any discussion is good,” Wick said. “It’s one thing to write something down on a card; it’s another thing to do something about it. Maybe a step in between is to talk about it.”

The next meeting, scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. on June 29, will attempt to identify concrete steps about what’s next for Germantown City Hall.

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