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Museum plan chugs along minus tracks

May 04, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The preferred site for a new baseball stadium is more than a mile from the nearest railroad line, which could complicate plans to build a railroad museum next to the stadium.

Supporters of the $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex say the issue will not prevent the railroad museum, now at 300 S. Burhans Boulevard, from moving next to the stadium, which proponents have proposed be built behind the Centre at Hagerstown.

"We're going to have a roundhouse museum at the site," said Bill Knode, a member of the museum board of directors and the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force.

Knode said that ideally, a rail line would be extended to a new museum. Such a line would enable the museum's collection of locomotives and train cars to be more easily moved and would enable tourist train excursions to begin and end at the new museum.

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Obtaining a site with rail access originally had been a condition of museum participation in the project.

Knode said Thursday, however, that rail access is "not a requirement."

"We have a wish list, but getting 90 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing," Knode said.

Preliminary architectural and engineering work to be overseen by the Maryland Stadium Authority will review the feasibility of extending a rail line to the proposed stadium site, he said. That work is expected to be funded by the city, Washington County and private contributions.

City and private funds are already available, and a majority of the Washington County Commissioners said they support funding the work.

The proposed stadium site is near the U.S. 40 and Interstate 81 interchange. The closest rail line is about 1.5 miles away, on the other side of roads that new tracks would have to cross.

The cost of extending a rail line to the site is not included in the $15 million stadium complex figure, said City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, who is a member of the stadium task force.

Despite the rail issue, the site is seen as one of the best places for a new Hagerstown stadium because of its proximity to Interstate 81.

"The new stadium will be an icon for Hagerstown. ... You know you're in Hagerstown when you see the stadium on the hill," Boyer said.

Appraisals are being done on the site and Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium. The appraisals will affect the sale price and whether the existing stadium is included in any deal for the preferred site. Documents provided by the stadium task force estimate the 40-acre site will cost $2 million.

The $2 million figure is included in the overall $15 million cost of the proposed stadium-railroad museum.

Under the stadium task force proposal, the project would be paid for with $3 million each from the city and county, $6 million from the state and $3 million in private contributions.

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