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Mayor, City Council support campus site

June 23, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown's mayor and City Council are putting past differences aside and joining the effort to bring a state university campus to donated land at Allegheny Power's Friendship Technology Park off Interstate 70.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II was an outspoken supporter of a proposal to bring the university center to the vacant Baldwin Complex in downtown Hagerstown.

That plan was proposed by former Mayor Steven T. Sager, who said renovating the complex would be millions of dollars cheaper than building on the technology park site. University System officials disagreed with that evaluation.

On June 16, Bruchey was the lone member of a 22-member site selection committee to vote for the downtown site over the technology park site.

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During a City Council meeting Tuesday, Bruchey said that he had "promised not to do anything to prevent the campus from coming here."

He said Hagerstown will benefit as long as a university center is built in Washington County.

"This needs to be in Washington County," Bruchey said.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said he saluted Bruchey and city staff for making a good presentation to the site selection committee.

Now that a decision has been made, Boyer said the mayor and council should draft a letter of support for what he called "the most important project for the area."

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he agreed with Boyer.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said that the city presentation to the site selection committee was very good.

"I don't think anyone sitting there with an unbiased mind could have made any decision other than for downtown," Saum-Wicklein said.

Bruchey agreed.

"Unless you went there with a biased opinion there wasn't any choice but downtown," Bruchey said.

The city's effort to bring the campus downtown began after Sager presented the mayor and City Council with a plan during a closed meeting May 18.

On June 16, the site selection committee rejected the city's offer and affirmed its Feb. 1 endorsement of Allegheny Power's donated 20-acre site.

About $795,000 for planning and design has been allocated for the campus, which is expected to cost about $12 million.

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