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CSX wants answer on Roundhouse

July 29, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

The fate of the Hagerstown roundhouse complex appears sealed as CSX wants a final decision today from Hagerstown on whether the city will take over legal responsibility for the complex, officials said Tuesday.

Kevin Hurley, CSX Real Property's director, said he wants to hear from city officials today so a decision can be made to demolish the entire roundhouse complex or just some insignificant buildings that pose hazards.

The city's assumption of liability could delay the demolition and give roundhouse supporters more time to preserve it for a museum.

"We need a commitment now from the city," Hurley said after a joint meeting at the County Administration Building of the City Council and Washington County Commissioners.

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City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he would call Hurley today about the deadline, but planned to put the topic on the City Council's agenda for next Tuesday.

"We're not prepared to give them an affirmative response" today, Zimmerman said after the meeting.

CSX wants the city or another agency to take on legal responsibility for the land and buildings and reimburse $500,000 of demolition costs. The Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum Inc. wants to turn the roundhouse complex into a tourist attraction.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said many concerns were still unanswered, including how badly the ground is contaminated. Bruchey said he cannot make a commitment to CSX without knowing what's in the ground.

The extent of contamination at the site would affect how much land could be developed as a business park, which is one option under consideration.

City officials say CSX has told them that much of the land was contaminated by diesel fuel or hydrocarbons.

Hurley said he wanted a commitment from the city or some other agency before CSX has the environmental study done. That study could take two to three months.

Asbestos is being cleaned up on the property now. CSX still needs to get a lead paint removal plan approved by state environmental officials before the demolition permit can be issued by the city, Hurley said.

Mike Heyser, the city's building inspector, said city law requires the buildings to be razed to 30 inches below ground level to prevent future construction from running into an old foundation.

Heyser said he wasn't sure if that would "open a can of worms" since there could be environmental problems underground that shouldn't be disturbed.

Hurley said excavating 30 inches below ground level is not part of CSX's demolition contract and would increase demolition costs, which are expected to exceed $1 million.

"I'm still optimistic we can make this work, but the city has to move fast," said Bill Knode, museum treasurer.

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