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Fort Ritchie group asks county for $100,000

February 25, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Fort Ritchie group asks county for $100,000

The PenMar Development Corp. asked the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday for $100,000 to help pay for a $500,000 business plan for the reuse of Fort Ritchie.

Executive Director Robert Sweeney told the commissioners that the business plan will address the complex issues involved in transferring the land from the Department of Defense to the PenMar Development Corp.

The plan also will address the need for utilities, staffing, financing and capital improvements over the next 10 years.

Sweeney said the plan would build on a 20-year strategic plan for the reuse of the fort. That plan, completed in early 1997, cost $428,000.

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Most of the funding for the plans have come from federal and state grants, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said $1.38 million has been spent so far by the PenMar Development Corp. or its predecessor, the Local Redevelopment Authority. Of that, 88 percent came from the federal government, 11 percent from the state and 1 percent from the county.

Sweeney said one of the corporation's goals is to have the property transferred without the corporation assuming any liabilities from the Department of the Defense.

The 638-acre base officially will close on Sept. 30 and become the Lakeside Corporate Center at PenMar.

The corporation will become the landlord for the base and charge rent to tenants.

"It has been our intent all along to make it self-sufficient," Sweeney said.

Sweeney said he couldn't predict when the new corporation might become self-sufficient until the business plan is completed in June. He said in an interview he expected the corporation will need another $100,000 from the county next year.

The PenMar Development Corp. also has contracted with the Lyceum Group for $41,191 to study ways to attract and retrain high-tech workers, Sweeney said. That study is being paid for by the Tri-County Council, he said.

The PenMar Development Corp. also plans to have a display at the World Congress for Information Technology in June in Fairfax, Va., at a cost of $50,000.

The strategic plan completed in early 1997 calls for turning the fort into a technology center and conference facility that eventually could create 2,200 high-tech jobs.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners will consider the request.

A public hearing is set for Tuesday, March 3, at 10 a.m. in the County Commissioners meeting room at 100 W. Washington St. on whether to make the PenMar Development Corp. and the Washington County Agricultural Education Center Inc. eligible to receive funding from the County Commissioners.

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