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City to seek state grant for stadium study

June 17, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

It appears that Hagerstown officials will seek a state grant to fund a feasibility study for a minor league baseball stadium and convention center, but are waiting to see if Washington County will join in, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Tuesday.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners will discuss whether to co-sign the grant application next Tuesday.

Snook said they were hesitant because they voted 3-2 in February not to spend county money on a stadium, either directly or indirectly by building roads and sewers.

Commissioner John Shank said city and county officials should resolve other joint projects before moving on to new ones. He said county officials were still waiting to see a final design for the Fairgrounds.

City Engineer Bruce Johnston said a design is expected to be presented to the council in July.

County officials said they were interested in a feasibility study for a new city business park.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he was prepared to have the city apply for the grant, but other city officials want to give the county a chance to join in.

A stadium study could cost $40,000 and a convention center study $60,000, said Kim McCalla, project manager with the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Grant money would need to be obtained quickly because it could take four months to get the studies done and they're needed before the Maryland General Assembly begins its legislative session in January, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

City and county officials met at City Hall on Tuesday, restarting monthly meetings they haven't had since February because of budget preparations.

Early in the meeting, Frank Turner, who owns the Ramada Inn and Convention Center, said he was opposed to a publicly owned convention center subsidized with tax money.

Turner said there wasn't enough convention business to book his convention center every weekend so local governments would be wasting taxpayer money building a new one.

Ben Hart, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said officials should proceed with the study because the area then could draw more conventions.

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