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City Council agrees to join county in McCrory purchase

July 31, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday agreed to pledge up to $140,000 for an organization to buy the former McCrory building in downtown Hagerstown if state money isn't available.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, has proposed buying the former McCrory building at 50-56 W. Washington St. for $275,000 so it can be torn down in order to improve parking or open space around the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

The city's promise to provide acquisition money comes a week after the Washington County Commissioners pledged to pay up to $300,000 for acquisition and demolition costs.

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The city and county pledges are for different amounts because the county contribution includes demolition costs while the city pledge does not, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said.

The city can later increase the size of its pledge if state money is not budgeted, he said.

County Attorney Richard Douglas has said the total project could cost as much as $600,000.

The city pledge was contingent on the county pledge.

Tuesday's vote was 4-1, with Councilwoman Penny May Nigh opposed. She said she did not think the city should have to pay for the expense of buying the building.

County Commissioners Paul L. Swartz and William J. Wivell voted against the pledge. They said the state already should have agreed to pay for the demolition.

Classes at the university system's Hagers-town Education Center tentatively are scheduled to begin in January 2004. The center will be at the Baldwin House complex on West Washington Street. The project has a $12.4 million budget.

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