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City will not raze park's buildings

September 14, 2000

City will not raze park's buildings



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


A narrow majority of the Hagerstown City Council agreed Tuesday to accept state grants to stabilize the entrance and keeper's buildings at the city Fairgrounds Park.

With that decision, the city is expected to fix up the exteriors of both buildings in the 400 block of North Mulberry Street instead of demolishing or leaving alone the deteriorated structures. The city-owned buildings, which are connected, are vacant.

Council members also agreed to try to establish a curatorship program for the buildings. Through a curatorship, an individual would be responsible for restoring one or both buildings in return for a free lease.

A formal decision on accepting the $73,122 in grants to stabilize the keeper's and the entrance buildings is expected Sept. 26, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

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Council members previously had balked at accepting the grants, which give the state an easement on the properties and probably would prohibit demolition. Some council members had mentioned demolition as a possibility for the keeper's residence.

The mayor and council members met Tuesday with representatives from the Maryland Historical Trust, the state's Program Open Space and the curatorship program at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to discuss options for the buildings.

After some discussion, Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said it appeared the council could choose to demolish the buildings or use the grant money to stabilize them.

Council members Susan Saum-Wicklein and Alfred W. Boyer and Metzner supported accepting the grants. Council members said Tuesday the city would have to contribute about $43,000 in matching funds for the stabilization.

Kathy Maher, Hagerstown senior planner and the city staff member overseeing plans for the keeper's and entrance buildings, said stabilizing them means the buildings would be fixed up to look nice from the outside.

Councilmen William M. Breichner and J. Wallace McClure were against accepting the grants.

McClure said he favored using the grants to fix up the entrance building and not the former keeper's residence, but said that because the funds have to be used for both buildings he opposed accepting the money.

Breichner, who has been an advocate of demolishing the buildings, said the estimate for renovating the buildings is $750,000, and the city has better places to spend money.

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