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Gov. wants campus site analysis

July 23, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has been watching closely the debate over the University System of Maryland Hagerstown center sites and is "concerned he is not getting the information he needs to make a decision," his spokesman said Friday.

Glendening will not state his site preference until he sees a complete analysis comparing the downtown Hagerstown site and Allegheny Power's Friendship Technology Park site, said Michael E. Morrill, the governor's director of communications. The information Glendening has received so far is not sufficient, Morrill said.

The Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown-Washington Economic Development Commission are sending letters to Glendening, supporting a county steering committee's recommendation of the Allegheny Power site.

While advocacy letters will be part of Glendening's decision-making process it will not give him what he really needs, Morrill said.

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"What he really needs to see is an analysis of the two sites," he said. "What he is looking for is all the facts."

Some are assuming that the governor has made a decision in favor of the downtown site, Morrill said.

"That is an incorrect assumption," he said. "Do not assume we need to change his mind. People should assume they should give him information," he said.

A comment Glendening made last week has been misconstrued, Morrill said.

"All other things being equal he would prefer downtown over an out-of-town site," he said. "He has not seen enough to know if all things are equal." The Allegheny Power site is about five miles from the downtown.

Supporters of the downtown site say it more closely fits the governor's smart growth initiative which encourages revitalizations of downtown.

Supporters of the Allegheny Power site say it also fits the smart growth initiative but is cheaper, more accessible and has more room for expansion.

A committee of state administrators is comparing the two sites and will make a recommendation to the governor in a few months.

The system is postponing soliciting bids from design and architecture contractors until the governor states his site preference. The system had assumed the campus would be built on a donated 20-acre site at Allegheny Power's park since the steering committee endorsed that location in February.

At the suggestion of System Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg, the committee endorsed the site a second time June 16, saying it was a better location than the Baldwin House complex in downtown Hagerstown.

The EDC letter was mailed Friday and the County Commissioners letter will be sent early next week.

Letters also are being sent to all county municipalities, including the City of Hagerstown, asking them to write letters to Glendening expressing support for the Allegheny Power site.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey has said he would not send such a letter.

But three of the five council members - William M. Breichner, Alfred W. Boyer and Wally McClure - have said the city-offered site is inferior. But only Boyer and Breichner support withdrawing the offer.

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