County weighs less costly ag building

May 17, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners today will consider eliminating plans to put agricultural offices at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, a move that would cut project costs by about $300,000.

The County Commissioners are to examine contractors' bids for the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum off Md. 65 north of Sharpsburg.

They also will decide between two options, one of which would eliminate a plan to move the University of Maryland Agriculture Extension Service offices to the museum site. The offices now are adjacent to other agricultural service agencies on Maryland Avenue in Hagerstown.

Much of the project's cost will be paid for with $350,000 in donations from county residents and a $350,000 state matching grant.


If the extension offices are moved there, the county would spend about $300,000 more on the building's construction, according to county documents.

If the offices do not move, the extra cost may be as low as $21,200, according to county documents.

The first of the two options the County Commissioners will consider is for the earlier plan of a 19,557-square-foot building that includes a 7,200-square-foot museum shell. That option includes 2,054 square feet for a technical conference room and 8,010 square feet for the University of Maryland Extension Offices.

The second option is for a smaller facility of 9,114 square feet for the museum and the technical conference room.

The lowest of the four bids for both options came from Myers Building Systems Inc. of Clear Spring. The company's bid for the first option was $1.07 million and the second was $721,200.

Earlier this year the commissioners asked Public Works Director Gary Rohrer to develop the second option and review the lease expenses for the offices, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

Rohrer could not be reached for comment Monday.

John Staub, president of the Washington County Agricultural Education Center board of directors, said he would be happy with either option.

Staub plans to attend today's meeting. The discussion will be at 9:20 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room at the County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St.

Former County Commissioner John S. Shank, an advocate of the project, was defeated in his 1998 re-election bid. He is a member of the museum board and supports moving the offices to the complex.

Early plans for the project called for other agriculture-related agencies housed on Maryland Avenue to be invited to move to the complex, but that idea was dropped. Total costs for the center, due to that and other changes, dropped from $2.7 million to $1.5 million.

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