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Campus site decision put off

November 03, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Gov. Parris Glendening's move to consider a site at Hagerstown Community College for a University System of Maryland center will delay until December his decision on where the center should be built, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Michael Morrill had said Tuesday there was a possibility the decision would be made this week.

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Glendening has told his staff to examine the HCC site while he is on a two-week overseas trade mission, Morrill said.

Until recently, Glendening was expected to choose between land offered by Allegheny Power at its Friendship Technology Park off Interstate 70 and the city-offered Baldwin House complex in downtown Hagerstown.

Morrill said the governor has not said which of those two sites he prefers.

The Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly and two steering committee members Wednesday publicly switched their support from the Allegheny Power site to the HCC site on Robinwood Drive.

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Morrill said increased support for the HCC site would be a factor the governor considers.

Glendening wants to verify information about the cost, impact and long-term viability of building the campus at HCC compared to the other two locations, Morrill said. That would include determining the utility and road costs and who would pay for them, he said.

"Over the last few weeks he has heard a lot about the HCC site and while he is away he has asked his staff to review whether what he is being told is true ... and if it is potentially feasible," Morrill said.

There is less financial analysis available on the HCC site than on the other two locations, and Glendening wants more information before making a decision, Morrill said.

"He is not ready to jump to a conclusion," he said.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who supports the Baldwin Complex site, said he is not bothered by the delay or by the Glendening's decision to consider the HCC site. Glendening told him Friday he would make a decision this week, Bruchey said.

When Glendening was in Washington County on Sept. 15 to check out the Baldwin Complex and Friendship Technology Park sites, he asked about the HCC land but did not include it in his tour.

He said then that he wanted to select a site by late November. Morrill said Glendening wanted to decide early so he could allocate funds for the center in his annual budget, as he does with large capital projects.

Glendening instead is putting a "placemark" in the budget, meaning he will ask for money for a University System center with the location to be specified later, Morrill said.

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington and Del. Robert McKee, R-Washington, each said Wednesday that they do not mind the delay if it means the University System center might go on the HCC site.

Swartz and Merle Elliott, president of the Washington County Industrial Foundation, known as CHIEF, said Tuesday they prefer the HCC land for the campus. Both are on a steering committee that twice endorsed Allegheny Power's site.

The Washington County Higher Education Association, a group of about 45 full-time HCC faculty members, sent Glendening a letter in September asking him to visit and consider the site.

"The WCHEA is thrilled to death with all of this," association President Tom Clemens said Wednesday. "I think it is well worth the wait."

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