Time running short for roundhouse

September 04, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART and JULIE E. GREENEs

CSX Corp.'s contractor applied for additional demolition permits Thursday after a plea by Maryland's U.S. senators didn't halt plans to demolish the Hagerstown roundhouse complex.

"We're not closing the door, but absent any other new ideas, the demolition will continue," CSX spokesman Rob Gould said.

CSX President John Snow responded to a plea by U.S. Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski in a Sept. 2 letter, in which he wrote there was "no realistic alternative (but) to proceed with demolition."

Snow wrote that CSX is willing to continue talking with local officials and roundhouse supporters.

Sarbanes' spokesman Jesse Jacobs said the senator has done what he could and now the complex's fate is up to the city.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said nothing's changed from the city's perspective.

CSX officials want the city, or buyer, to accept legal responsibility for environmental contaminants unearthed after a sale - a stumbling point for city officials.


CSX officials have said they would clean the land along South Burhans Boulevard to meet state standards before selling it.

Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum Inc. president Bob Tracey said he and other supporters aren't giving up.

"I'll never stop being optimistic. As long as a dialogue is still there, we'll keep on trying," Tracey said.

Museum officials have two nonprofit groups to help them save the roundhouse. One of the groups is the National Railway Historical Society in Philadelphia. Tracey would not identify the other group.

Time is running out.

CSX's contractor expects to finish removing asbestos and lead paint in two weeks, said Mike Heyser, the city's building inspector.

Crews are preparing to break up the concrete transfer pit between the two erecting shops to fill in the pit, Heyser said.

The contractor has a demolition permit for 14 structures and applied on Thursday for permits to demolish 11 more, including the stores building, Heyser said. Those permits could be ready by Tuesday, he said.

Museum officials want to expand the museum by moving it from 300 S. Burhans Blvd. into the stores building, a long, two-story building parallel to the railroad tracks along City Park.

"That's a tremendous loss. We need to try to hold onto that," Tracey said.

CSX's contractor has not applied for a demolition permit for the crescent-shaped roundhouse.

The most recent permit applications include the wheel house and the north blacksmith shop, Heyser said.

Tracey said museum officials hoped to use the blacksmith shop as an educational display and reactivate the wheel shop for repairs.

The roundhouse is part of the largest railroad complex remaining from the steam era and features the second-longest turntable in the world at about 115 feet, according to museum officials.

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