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Governor to visit campus sites

August 16, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening will come to Washington County within the next six weeks to inspect the two sites he is considering for the University System of Maryland, Hagerstown center.

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A member of Glendening's staff called Alan Noia, president of Allegheny Power, on Friday to lay the groundwork for setting up a date for a visit to the donated campus site at the company's Friendship Technology Park, said Robert E. Sweeney, campus project director.

A visit from Glendening has been expected since a committee of state administrators started comparing the Allegheny Power site, which the county and University System prefer, to the Baldwin House Complex in downtown Hagerstown, Sweeney said.

While the governor will receive a report and recommendation from the committee, County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said he is encouraged the governor will see the two sites himself.

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"I think it means he wants to see it first-hand himself. And that's something. We have been wanting him to see it with his own eyes," he said."

"I'm pleased he is coming and going to survey it himself," said Swartz, co-chairman of the Washington County steering committee.

The committee endorsed the Allegheny Power site over three others on Feb. 1 and over the Baldwin House site, offered by the City of Hagerstown, on June 16.

Seeing the two sites will make it easier for Glendening to make a decision, said Swartz.

"Personally, I think he will then make the right decision," he said.

Supporters of the downtown site, including Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, say it better fits the governor's Smart Growth Act initiative, which promotes revitalization of downtowns.

Washington County Planning Director Robert E. Arch says the Allegheny Power site also fits the Smart Growth criteria.

The single-building campus was scheduled to open in fall 2002 but Sweeney predicts at least a six-month delay because a site is not firm. He said the University System will not solicit bids for design and architecture work until Glendening says which site he prefers.

Bruchey, who said he is excited by the prospect of the governor's visit, questions whether there will be a delay.

Since February the county and the University System have been proceeding with plans, and raising almost $1 million in county, state and private money for the $13.4 million campus. Those plans are specific to the 20-acre Allegheny Power site.

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