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Roundhouse talks continue

CSX awaits demolition permit

July 30, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

The deadline for the City of Hagerstown to save the roundhouse complex has passed, but there is time for officials to reach an accord with the owners of the property.

CSX Real Property Director Kevin Hurley said Wednesday that CSX hadn't extended its July 29 deadline for a decision from the city on whether to take over the roundhouse property.

But CSX has not yet received a demolition permit for the property, giving the city more time to take action.

"If we get an offer that's acceptable prior to getting the demolition permit we would consider that," Hurley said.

Otherwise CSX will proceed with demolition plans, he said.

The mayor and City Council plan to discuss the roundhouse's fate one more time next Tuesday.

The demolition permit could be ready by the end of next week, Mike Heyser, the city's building inspector, said Tuesday.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said a counteroffer to CSX's sale proposal will be made Tuesday, but he refused to discuss details of that offer.

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Bruchey said it would be "stupid" for the city to take over the land without knowing what environmental problems might be underground.

The fate of the roundhouse will depend on whether CSX agrees to conduct an environmental study and give the city the results before asking the city to take over the land, Bruchey said.

Hurley said Tuesday he wanted a commitment from the city before the environmental study was done.

Once the study is done, CSX would encapsulate any contaminated areas, Hurley said. One way to do that would be to pave over those areas.

There would be nothing for the city to do at that point unless city officials develop the property, he said.

That's exactly what city officials have said they want to do.

Bruchey said he wants to save the roundhouse and the 40-plus acres of land along South Burhans Boulevard, perhaps for use as a business park.

City officials say a CSX official told them on July 10 that much of the ground is contaminated with diesel fuel and hydrocarbons, although the drinking water underground has not been tainted.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said city officials will discuss on Tuesday the need for more information about environmental concerns and whether the property could be developed once environmental issues were addressed.

Development would be limited if the deal included a stipulation that the soil couldn't be disturbed, Zimmerman said.

Roundhouse President Bob Tracey said he was less optimistic on Wednesday about the chance of saving the roundhouse complex for a tourist attraction.

Nothing "short of a miracle" would save the historic buildings, including the crescent-shaped roundhouse and its turntable, Tracey said.

Tracey suggested the city could tell CSX it would take over the land in 120 days, pending favorable results from the environmental study.

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