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Rail group offers plan for roundhouse

September 22, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The Hagerstown Roundhouse may get a reprieve from demolition as a result of plans announced Monday by officials of The National Railway Historical Society in Philadelphia.

Society officials said they would try to work out a contract with property owners CSX to accept the property's title.

According to Robert Rollins, a member of the local and national chapters, the arrangement is the result of a meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

The national organization, in a letter of intent sent to CSX, agreed to negotiate the contract, he said.

A second agreement would call for the property to be used by the museum, he said.

Rollins said the property likely will be leased to the museum for $1 a year.

The museum would likely reimburse CSX up to $500,000 for cleanup costs, he said.

Museum officials want to save the complex and turn it into a tourist attraction. The roundhouse is part of the largest railroad complex remaining from the steam era.

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"It's worth saving because it's one of a kind," said Rollins.

At least three earlier attempts to save the roundhouse in which the city was involved failed because Hagerstown leaders and CSX could not agree on terms.

A demolition permit for 14 of the 36 structures was approved on Aug. 12. Earlier this month, CSX was granted permits to take down 11 structures at the complex, excluding the crescent-shaped roundhouse.

If the deal falls through and the roundhouse cannot be saved, museum officials said they would like to salvage the turntable and move the museum to larger quarters in Washington County.

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