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Stadium task force considers alternative sites

March 17, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The stadium task force is looking at alternative sites, including Allegheny Power's planned Friendship Technology Park, for the proposed Home Run Business Park, Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said Tuesday.

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"If you lock into one place, you could end up with egg on your face," said Swartz, co-chairman of a task force looking into building a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns.

An Allegheny Power spokesman, told of Swartz's comments, said the company prefers the proposed site at Interstate 81 and Salem Avenue.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said he also prefers the Salem Avenue site for the business park, which would include a stadium and a state visitors center.

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While he is willing to consider other locations, he would prefer keeping the stadium and business park inside the city limits, said Bruchey, who is on the task force.

No city or Allegheny Power employees were present when Swartz made his comments during Tuesday's Washington County Commissioners meeting.

A city-county commissioned feasibility study is not considering Friendship Technology Park or any other sites outside the city limits.

The study, conducted by Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, will be completed and presented to the Hagerstown City Council and the County Commissioners within the next few weeks, said Merle Elliott, CHIEF president.

Any business park sites must be on the interstate and easily accessible, Swartz said.

The Washington County Commissioners want to build a University of Maryland campus at Friendship Technology Park. Allegheny Power donated 20 acres on the west side of the park for the campus.

Allegheny Power also has offered to pay about $1 million for naming rights for a stadium.

The company likes the current proposed site, said Cyndi Shoop, Allegheny Power spokesman.

"That, from our perspective, is the most advantageous place because it gives us the most visibility," she said.

The company has not been approached by anyone from the stadium or the task force, she said. The company would have to review the idea to see if it would make sense to put the business park in a high-technology park, she said.

During Tuesday's meeting, Swartz said the task force was considering establishing a stadium authority.

The stadium authority would be in charge of planning and scheduling stadium events while the city and county governments would be responsible for its maintenance, he said.

It would be a nine-member board with the county appointing four members and the city five members, he said.

At a joint meeting on Feb. 18, the Washington County Commissioners and two members of the Hagerstown City Council asked CHIEF to do the study.

CHIEF will determine whether a business park inside city limits appears to be feasible, Elliott said. He then will report the study's findings to the council and the commissioners.

CHIEF will decide whether it wants to offer to build the business park itself, as it has with four other business parks.

As part of its work, CHIEF is looking at a $14.5 million plan the city developed for the park.

That plan called for $4.2 million from the county, $5.1 million from the state and $2.3 million from the city. The rest of the funds would come from private companies.

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