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Governor tours proposed campus sites

September 15, 1999

campus mapBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photos: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Gov. Parris N. Glendening Tuesday heard presentations on the two proposed locations for the University System of Maryland, Hagerstown center and promised he'd select a site by late November.

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"We will try to make a decision very rapidly," he said. He must decide by November so he can include the campus in his annual budget, he said.

Glendening said it is "essential" for the region to have a campus and stated twice that there is no chance one won't be built in Washington County.

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He said he wants to determine the best location for students as well as the site that best meets his Smart Growth Act initiative. Both sites meet the requirements, according to their proponents.

Glendening said there are advantages to each of the two sites: Allegheny Power's Friendship Technology Park and the city-offered Baldwin House Complex in downtown Hagerstown.

Glendening, accompanied by the state directors of planning and general services and other state employees, walked around the Baldwin House complex but did not go inside the buildings because he was behind schedule. A spokesman said he drove past the Allegheny Power site, which is vacant land.

At two separate presentations Glendening emphasized the importance of Smart Growth.

Gov. Glendening"We are quite serious about this issue. You must understand we won't use public dollars to promote sprawl," he said.

Washington County Planning Director Robert Arch said the Allegheny Power site was "smart 'smart growth'" whereas Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey said the downtown site was true smart growth.

"This is a pretty classic case of downtown revitalization or sprawl," said Debbie Everhart, city economic development coordinator.

Asked if he felt one site more completely met the Smart Growth initiative, Glendening said he needs to review the plans more thoroughly before answering.

The presentation for the Allegheny Power site was in a company board room and was attended by county officials and a few members of the steering committee. The city presentation in the Frostburg University Center conference room was attended by about 20 business leaders in addition to city officials.

The governor did not examine a third site, land adjacent to the Hagerstown Community College. He asked why the steering committee did not endorse that site.

Bill Reuter, a committee member, said it was rejected because of high utility, road and land costs and because residents on Robinwood Drive, near the college, think there is already excessive traffic on the road.

Glendening did not answer when later asked directly why he was not considering that site. He instead pointed to Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who said the costs were still too high even after the college bought the land with a $1.4 million loan from the county.

Glendening's Chief of Staff, Gene Lynch, said the campus at the Allegheny Power site would cost $14 million. Washington County has $500,000 budgeted in its Capital Improvement Program to extend water and sewer lines to the campus site, Arch said.

The $14 million cost includes $1.5 million to buy 20 acres of land adjacent to the donated 20-acre parcel.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the downtown site would be at least $1 million less expensive because it could use existing structures.

The Washington County Commissioners and the University System chancellor have said they prefer the Allegheny Power site and a county steering committee has endorsed that location twice, on Feb. 1 and June 16. The latter vote came at the suggestion of System Chancellor Donald Langenberg.

Despite that recommendation, Langenberg said Wednesday both sites would be good spots for a campus. However, there would be a delay if the campus were built downtown because plans drawn up so far are specific to the Allegheny Power site, he said.

There would be an 18-month delay if the campus is built downtown, Harley Cloud, director of the Shady Grove Center, told Glendening at one point. The single-building Washington County campus is modeled after the Shady Grove Center in Rockville, Md., and intended to serve up to 1,240 students by 2006.

The campus was scheduled to open in September 2002 but the campus project director, Robert Sweeney, has predicted there will be at least a six-month delay while the University System waits to see which site the governor prefers.

Bruchey said he does not think there will be any delays. The campus could be built downtown and open in the fall of 2002, he said.

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