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Council balks at roundhouse deal

June 24, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Hagerstown City Council members said Tuesday night they don't have enough information to agree to buy the deteriorating Hagerstown roundhouse complex.

With a July 3 deadline looming from roundhouse owner CSX Real Property, the council questioned CSX, a representative from the Maryland Department of Environment and members of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum Inc.

CSX wants to sell the 40-acre complex along South Burhans Boulevard to a government agency and absolve itself of cleanup responsibilities.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and council members expressed concern at the city's potential liability.

"We want to save the roundhouse. We don't want to take on something that's going to cost millions," Bruchey said.

The CSX deadline is firm and the company wants to be freed from liability, said D. Kevin Hurley, director of CSX Real Property, told the council Tuesday.

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However, the city could agree to buy the property contingent upon the property's acceptance into a state voluntary cleanup program.

The Brownfields program would free the city from any state liability. But the federal Environmental Protection Agency or private citizens could still come forward and claim they were harmed by environmental problems, said administrator Shari T. Wilson.

Bruchey and council members said they need to see information about the environmental problems at the roundhouse before they can make a decision.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure urged CSX to put the community interest first.

"The roundhouse is a significant part of this city's past and possibly the future. If you insist on leveling things, I would strongly urge you to have a heart," he said.

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