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Bowers proposes expanding parking deck

October 16, 2000

Bowers proposes expanding parking deck



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


A plan developed by former Washington County Commissioner Ron Bowers calls for expanding Hagerstown's North Potomac Parking Deck by 137 spaces in order to provide more parking for the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

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The plan, which has not yet been submitted to the governor's office, also calls for turning the center into a two-building campus by using the 21,000-square-foot building now housing the Frostburg University Center in Public Square, Bowers said.

He believes those changes and more can be incorporated into the state campus without increasing the campus' present budget of $12.5 million.

Bowers, who is on the State Planning Commission, said he does not have cost estimates for his plan, which at this point is just a collection of ideas that could be revised later.

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Bowers said he has shown University System of Maryland officials his plans but they can't endorse them until they get approval from Gov. Parris Glendening to deviate from their present plans for a one-building campus at the Baldwin House complex.

His plan would work well and would not conflict with the $4.4 million Greater Hagerstown Committee plan to tear down six downtown buildings to make room for a 153-space parking lot, wider alleys and a park.

He has not presented the plan to that committee but intends to do so, he said.

"I want to complement what they are doing," he said.

If the parking deck is extended that might eliminate some of the need for the parking spaces included in the committee's plan, he said.

The committee's plan also has not been adopted. If approved it would increase the total campus cost to about $17 million.

Bowers suggests extending the parking deck over the alleyway between Frostburg and the complex, increasing parking spaces by about 117 spaces on the second level and 20 on the first, he said.

That would make parking easier for students and faculty, who would be able to enter the campus building via the parking deck, he said.

The plan may require tearing down parts of buildings near the complex but it would not involve removing any of the Baldwin House complex, he said.

He suggests the state issue a "request for expression of interest," a process which would allow local contractors to propose ideas on how to make a plan for a two-building campus work, he said.

The Frostburg property at 20 Public Square is owned by Hagerstown contractor Dominick Perini, who has agreed to donate the property if the plan is adopted, said Bowers, who has done consulting work for Perini in the past.

Bowers said he does not want the present education building abandoned for that use. Even if Frostburg moves its offices and classroom to the new campus building, as is the present plan, the system can use the Frostburg property for other education uses, Bowers said.

Perini did not return phone calls Monday.

His plan also calls for widening the alleyway between the Baldwin House complex and the Frostburg buildings, which would allow for drivers to more easily drive by the complex and drop people off for classes, he said.

His plan does not call for any changes to the businesses between the two buildings, he added.

Bowers said he has shown the plan to Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, and Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

Munson said he had no comment on the plan.

Bruchey did not return phone calls Monday.

Bowers has been working on these ideas of improving downtown for several years, including when he was a County Commissioner, before the downtown campus site was selected. As part of his research he has visited campuses in Pittsburgh and Austin, he said.

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