City loan eyed for museum studies

April 25, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II asked city staff Tuesday to check into whether a city business loan fund could be used to help pay for further studies for a Civil War museum.

The Antietam Creek Coalition, the nonprofit group proposing a downtown Civil War museum, is seeking $450,000 to launch a fund-raising campaign, cover expenses for applying for an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, and complete a traffic impact study and other studies and plans, said coalition Chairman Randy Harper.

Coalition member Dennis E. Frye has said the group will seek state grants for the $450,000.

Bruchey said he didn't know how much money the city loan fund might provide, if a loan is permissible.

Bruchey has taken on a lead role in promoting the museum. He said he will meet with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as early as next week to try to find state grants.

Harper and Frye met with the Hagerstown City Council and the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday to present a $100,000 study of the museum. The two-volume study was paid for with $95,000 from the state, county and city, and a $5,000 private contribution.


The coalition is proposing that a $46.4 million American Museum of the Civil War be built on the first block of West Antietam Street.

The project would be funded with $13 million in tax-exempt bonds, about $16.7 million in private donations, and about $16.7 million in state and federal money, according to the study.

The $46.4 million estimate does not include the cost of land or preparing the site for a museum or new parking facility, which could include building demolition.

Frye and others said they did not know how much the land would cost.

In the coalition's study presented Tuesday, the city would provide the site for the museum.

Councilman William M. Breichner said purchasing and preparing a museum site and parking facility should be considered a city contribution and included in the total cost.

Breichner said that when coalition members "originally sold us on the project, we were told the local governments would not have to put in any additional money."

Frye said he never made such a statement.

He said "some entity" would own the museum site, not necessarily the city.

The $100,000 study has been sent to the Smithsonian, Harper said, to be followed "soon" by the actual application, but he wouldn't be more specific.

Commissioners' President Gregory I. Snook said public money invested so far has been well spent. Snook said the museum proposal was one of the best he's seen.

The mayor said the museum project has great support from city, county, state and federal officials.

Commissioner John L. Schnebly said there are many questions, but that he favors the project.

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