'Hopewell Valley' strategy tops capital agenda

January 27, 1998

'Hopewell Valley' strategy tops capital agenda


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday reviewed a $15.8 million capital budget proposal that calls for $2.5 million in general fund money to be used to pay for improvements such as that planned for Halfway Boulevard.

The general fund money included in the draft budget for the 1999 budget year that begins July 1 is $1 million more than was included in the budget for the current fiscal year.

"I don't know if we can fund $2.5 million," said Commissioner James R. Wade.

In addition to the $2.5 million general fund money, the draft budget is balanced with $1.2 million in general fund surplus from fiscal 1997. Other funds include $8.65 million from sale of bonds and $2.5 million from state and federal grants.


The draft budget sets aside $3.6 million to pay for improvements at the intersection of Halfway Boulevard and Hopewell Road and to start extending Halfway Boulevard toward Md. 63.

The long-term strategic plan for the area, now called "Hopewell Valley," calls for a four-lane extension to Md. 63, a four-lane connection to U.S. 40 called Newgate Boulevard, and other improvements for a total cost of more than $20 million.

The commissioners are counting on development of the 2,000-acre Hopewell Valley to provide jobs, expand the tax base and make use of the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The five-year capital budget presented to the commissioners shows a shortfall of $32 million over the next five years.

"There is no way that we are going to be able to fund all of those projects," County Planning Director Robert C. Arch told the commissioners.

Arch said county department heads have been told to hold projects to only what is needed. Arch said the county also is working on alternative financing options.

Options to increase revenue available to the commissioners include imposing impact fees on new developments, creating special taxing districts such as in the Hopewell Road area to pay for the cost of new roads and other improvements, borrowing money or raising taxes across the board. The commissioners have approved a study that will consider impact fees and special taxing districts.

Commissioner R. Lee Downey said he couldn't see spending money in the next two or three years to expand Robinwood Drive between Robinwood Medical Campus and Hagerstown Junior College to four lanes.

Downey said he didn't think there is enough traffic to warrant the project, now planned for 2001. He said a right-hand turn lane could be put in for traffic going to HJC from the north end of Robinwood.

"We don't have a whole lot of funds to do anything out there," Downey said.

The Herald-Mail Articles