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Museum supporters disappointed

January 23, 2001

Museum supporters disappointed



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Parris Glendening said Tuesday he'll consider funding a Civil War Museum in Hagerstown if project supporters line up federal and private sources of funding.

But museum supporters say they'll keep trying to convince the governor that Maryland needs to offer its commitment first.

Glendening did not include the museum's $3 million request in his proposed fiscal 2002 capital budget. He could still choose to add it later this session in a supplemental budget.

"We are very disappointed. We were depending on the capital budget to kick off the program. We need Maryland to lead on this project and everything else will fall right into place," said museum spokesman Dennis Frye.

Glendening said he supports the museum concept, but the proposal is short on specifics about how the $46 million project will be funded and who will pay the annual operating costs.

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"There were still a lot of unanswered questions. The commitments were not there. I just need to see those details," Glendening said.

Frye said he was surprised, especially since museum supporters made it clear that state's $3 million pledge could be contingent on commitments from federal and local sources.

"This project perfectly fits every initiative of the governor. It's an ideal Smart Growth project, it represents top-level education beyond the classroom and it is a stellar economic development project," he said.

The museum would be built at the southwest corner of Antietam and Potomac streets in downtown Hagerstown.

Ultimately, the museum is looking for a total of $8 million from the state, $15 million from the federal government and $23 million in private donations and financing.

Museum supporters have spent the last year lobbying for the state appropriation.

They have met with a wide range of state officials, including Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, D-Allegany, and members of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

"Apparently our message was not loud enough, so for the supplemental we need to stand up and shout even louder," Frye said.

The governor's capital budget analysts will continue to review the project and accept any new documentation for consideration in a supplemental budget.

"It's on the list," said Eloise Foster, the governor's budget secretary.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said museum officials need to answer Glendening's questions.

"The Smithsonian affiliation is the keystone. Until the Smithsonian says 'I do,' the Civil War project is not going to be seriously considered," he said.

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