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Funds approved for court building

December 17, 1997

Funds approved for court building

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved spending $390,000 to purchase a downtown Hagerstown lot that will be the future home of Washington County District Court.

The 29,280-square-foot lot at 36 W. Antietam St., including a four-story warehouse, will be purchased from developer Vincent R. Groh. Plans call for the warehouse to be demolished so a new court building, with two courtrooms and room to add a third, can be built on the site.

The 27,376-square-foot building will have a separate entrance for detainees, eliminating the current practice of defendants having to walk through public hallways. The new building, at a total cost to the state of just under $6 million, is tentatively scheduled to open in the summer of 2000.

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"Speaking for the District Court, I am pleased for our employees and the citizens of Hagerstown that this project has taken a giant step closer to becoming a reality. A courthouse is the home of justice and deserves a special place in the community," District Court Chief Judge Martha F. Rasin said in a statement.

The Board of Public Works must approve all property sales to state agencies and institutions. The board consists of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon.

In a statement, Glendening said the District Court project is an example of his Smart Growth initiatives that encourage the redevelopment of existing urban areas in the state.

"Part of the effort is to relocate government facilities within those communities - in areas where people live and work and where the infrastructure already is in place to support it," Glendening said.

The new building will replace the existing District Court, which is on the first floor of the Washington County Office Building at 33 W. Washington St. Some court officials have said the existing quarters are too small, uncomfortable and without necessary facilities that modern courthouses have.

Design work on the new building is expected to start in February and conclude next December, according to the state Department of General Services. Construction is expected to start in March of 1999 and take 15 months to complete.

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