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UM campus is welcome downtown, or near HCC

November 23, 1999

A little less than a year ago, the Washington County Commissioners announced that the University System of Maryland wanted to establish a satellite campus here. After more than 25 years of citizen yearning for a four-year college, something many in the community had dismissed as an unlikely dream seemed about to come true.

That dream still can become a reality, despite all the infighting of the past year between proponents of the various sites, provided the community pulls together now, no matter which site is selected by Gov. Parris Glendening.

Pulling together will mean working in unison to overcome the problems university officials will face in dealing with either of the two sites still in the running - the downtown tract or the one adjacent to Hagerstown Community College.

If the downtown site is chosen, there'll be a need for street improvements, to make sure any repair or utility upgrades are done prior to the university's opening. The seven-month ordeal North Potomac Street merchants went through during the past construction season can't be repeated. Additional parking needs to be developed as well, so that students heading from work to classes aren't circling downtown looking for a space.

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If the choice is the HCC site, the commissioners need to begin buying property to widen Robinwood Drive out to Md. 64, since students from Pennsylvania will come in from that side. They'll also need to improve intersections on U.S. 40, so students heading to class don't have to sit through the traffic light's full cycle.

Finally, the community will have to pony up a share of construction costs wherever the campus is located. Citizens should do this with a smile not only because of the prestige that having a UM campus here will bring, but because it will provide an opportunity for those who can't afford to travel out-of-county to earn advanced degrees. Add to that the jobs the campus will provide and the other companies its presence will attract and citizens will have all the reasons they need to cheer, no matter where this campus is located.

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