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Senior citizens facility to be built in Hancock

January 06, 2000

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer




HANCOCK - A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday for a $2 million 24-unit public housing building to be built on the site where the Monterey Hotel was destroyed in a deliberately set fire in 1980.

"A lot of us have been waiting for this for 20 years," said Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington.

Hancock Mayor Daniel Murphy said the lot where the hotel stood has been an "urban blight for 20 years."

Murphy said he could not think of a better way to start a new century than by breaking ground for the building to house senior citizens at the northwest corner of Church and Main streets.

Callas Contractors Inc. will start construction in March. The Interfaith Council of Western Maryland and the Hancock Housing Committee developed the plans for the three-story building, which will be owned and managed by the Washington County Housing Authority.

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As early as 1980 the Housing Authority began seeking private developers to build public housing at the site where the Monterey Hotel, also known as the Hancock Hotel, had stood, Housing Authority Director Richard Willson said.

Plans were developed but did not come to fruition because the needed funding could not be obtained, said Louis O. Close, Hancock Town Manager, who was a councilman from 1991 to 1994.

Close has been involved with the project for almost 10 years.

"Lou went beyond the call of duty on many occasions," said Willson.

"These folks have the tenacity which would be a model for the nation," said Jim Upchurch, president of the Interfaith Council.

"This project is long overdue," Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

The town bought the land around 1991, using state Community Block Grant funds, and gave it to the Housing Authority, Willson said.

At least three full sets of plans by separate architects, along with accompanying funding plans, were developed before the present one, Willson said.

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