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Roundhouse supporters win a little time

July 01, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

CSX Real Property Inc. has given Hagerstown roundhouse supporters at least one extra week to find a way to save the dilapidated property for a tourism attraction.

CSX Real Property President Stephen Beck decided Tuesday that razing the property will be held off until after he can meet with local officials on Friday, July 10, said Kevin Hurley, CSX Real Property's director.

Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said Beck agreed to hold off until July 17.

Bowers and William Knode, treasurer for the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum Inc., pleaded with Beck during a conference call Tuesday to extend the July 3 deadline, officials said.

Beck could not be reached in his Florida office for comment on Tuesday.

City Engineer Bruce Johnston said it was unlikely demolition could have begun by July 10 since it could take two weeks for a demolition permit to be approved. The Maryland Department of Environment must sign off on an asbestos removal plan, he said.

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As of Tuesday, CSX had not applied for a demolition permit, said Mike Heyser, the city's building inspector.

Hurley said CSX will go ahead and apply for the permit.

Up until this week, Beck has been adamant that July 3 was the deadline for a government agency to take over legal responsibility for the 40-acre complex along South Burhans Boulevard.

Beck has said he is concerned about CSX's liability, including environmental and safety problems with the dilapidated buildings.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II had requested a six-month extension, but Beck, in a June 30 letter to Bruchey, stuck to the July 3 date, according to Hurley.

After a conference call with Bowers and Knode, Beck decided to give them another chance, Hurley said.

The July 10 meeting will give roundhouse supporters a chance to get all the power players together to resolve environmental concerns, Bowers said.

City officials also want to know if renovating the roundhouse is a viable economic project, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said during a Tuesday night commissioners meeting at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

Commissioner James Wade said he wanted to know how the project would be funded, how much taxpayer money roundhouse officials wanted and who would operate it.

Commissioner John Shank suggested selling off parcels of the undeveloped area to recoup the purchase price.

CSX has asked museum officials for $500,000 for the property.

Bowers said Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation and Maryland Economic Development Corporation officials are prepared to talk with city and county officials about how to fund the purchase and renovation of the property.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the regional group that determines what projects get federal transportation funds will consider helping the roundhouse, but it doesn't yet know whether or how the funds could be used for that specific project.

The first phase of the renovation is expected to cost $5 million and would include the 25-stall, crescent-shaped roundhouse and stores building.

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