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Professors back HCC site for campus

September 09, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

A group of Hagerstown Community College professors has sent Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening a letter endorsing the HCC campus as the most "logical and efficient location" for the University System of Maryland, Hagerstown center.

The community college site on Robinwood Drive is "academic smart growth," said Tom Clemens, a humanities professor at HCC and president of the Washington County Higher Education Association, a 3-year-old group of about 45 full-time faculty members.

College President Norman P. Shea said Thursday he backs Allegheny Power's Friendship Technology Park site off Md. 632, which was endorsed in February by the Washington County Steering Committee.

Shea said Glendening will choose between two sites: Allegheny Power's and the city-owned Baldwin House Complex in downtown Hagerstown.

Shea earlier had supported placing the system center on land adjacent to HCC.

The Friendship Park site was chosen after the Washington County Industrial Foundation (CHIEF) turned down a request to buy 116 acres next to the campus and Allegheny Power offered free land, steering committee members said.

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Supporters of the downtown site say it fits the governor's Smart Growth initiative, which encourages downtown revitalization. Others say the technology park site also is consistent with the Smart Growth initiative.

Glendening will tour the two sites Wednesday afternoon. As of Wednesday, he had no plans to visit the HCC site, a spokesman said. The spokesman could not be reached Thursday.

The association, in a Sept. 7 letter to Glendening, offered to meet with him during his visit.

"They could put their oar in the water like everyone else," Shea said.

The association's five-member executive board felt that with the governor coming, it was time to "lay all the cards on the table," Clemens said.

Shea wrote a position paper in January for the steering committee saying that land adjacent to the 187-acre HCC was the best spot for a system center, pointing out the two could share facilities, including a library and parking lots.

The cost of buying the land was cited as a reason against choosing the site.

Since then, HCC bought the land on the west side of Robinwood Drive for $1.4 million, with a loan from the Washington County Commissioners. The purchase was recorded April 29.

The campus plans for the land to serve as a buffer against encroaching development, Shea said Thursday.

"We have been told the ownership of land was the big problem. That is now a moot point," Clemens said. "We feel now it is like a different ball game."

Shea said the University System has developed a plan for the campus based on the Allegheny Power location and switching sites would delay the project.

Robert E. Sweeney, campus project director, has said confusion about which site the governor wants will delay the project about six months. Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II has questioned whether there would be a delay.

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