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Committee weighing sites for new campus

January 14, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Allegheny Power's proposed Friendship Technology Park is among four sites being evaluated by a steering committee that is working to bring a University System of Maryland campus in Washington County, according to sources.

A second site is on private land abutting Hagerstown Community College.

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Of the remaining, one is in Williamsport and one in Hagerstown near the Hagerstown Commons shopping center near Dual Highway, according to sources who attended a closed committee meeting Wednesday.

Two of the sites would be donated, the source said.

Gregory I. Snook, president of the Washington County Commissioners and steering committee chairman, said he could not specify which of the sites were being offered for the college at no cost. He also would not discuss the cost of the two other sites.

"We are heading in the right direction," Snook said. "But this does take time to do."

The committee plans to prioritize the four sites within the next two weeks, he said. As part of that process, committee members are evaluating site and utility costs, he said.

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The campus was briefly mentioned during a Thursday workshop of the County Commissioners.

"This University of Maryland thing would be a gift from God," said Commissioner John L. Schnebly.

"Let's not count our gifts until we get them," Snook replied.

The proposed Washington County campus is being referred to as "Shady Grove North," since it is modeled after the Shady Grove Center in Shady Grove, Md. About 5,000 students annually attend classes offered by the university system at that center.

The five County Commissioners are going to Shady Grove on Jan. 21 to take a tour of the campus and meet with officials there, Snook said. They might discuss the four potential sites with the officials, he said.

The committee's Wednesday meeting was the first since the plan was announced publicly on Dec. 14. At that time Snook said the committee was hoping someone would donate 20 acres of land for the campus, which would initially consist of one building.

The campus would offer courses selected from the university system's 13 four-year institutions.

At the County Commissioners Dec. 15 meeting, the commissioners named Snook and Commissioner Paul L. Swartz to the steering committee and suggested they be co-chairmen. The committee named them chairmen during Wednesday's meeting, said Washington County Administrator Rodney Shoop.

Shoop has said the county must take the lead in the push for a campus in Washington County. That push might include the county making a financial commitment, but it is too early to say how much that might be, he said.

The committee meets again on Feb. 1.

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