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6 attend open space meeting

August 22, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown held a public meeting Wednesday night on its application for about $1.2 million in state funds to pay for part of a $4.2 million open space plan at the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

As part of the plan, five buildings would be demolished, and a park and a 153-space parking lot would be created, Hagerstown Senior Planner Kathleen Maher said.

Washington County business leaders proposed the open space plan in 2000 to complement the University System of Maryland's renovation of the Baldwin House complex on Washington Street.

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Six people attended a short presentation by Maher on the plan and the application.

"I commend you and the city for taking this project and running with it," Hagerstown businessman Wayne Alter told Maher at the meeting.

At a May meeting, the Hagerstown City Council authorized applying for state money for the plan.

The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution to support the application for $1.169 million from the state Community Legacy Program, a Smart Growth initiative created last year by the state.

The council also is to vote on a $25,000 application to the Appalachian Regional Commission for a grant to pay for a consultant to survey the area, design the elements included in the plan and prepare the construction drawings.

Last month the city applied for $300,000 in state funds for the project. The city has not been told whether it will receive that money, Maher said.

The city will apply next year for state funds to pay for the rest of the costs, she said.

Part of the project calls for purchasing and demolishing the former McCrory's building at 50-56 W. Washington St., next door to the education center and, later, putting a small park in its place, Maher said. The land parcel is .43 of an acre, she said.

Once the building is demolished, contractors renovating the Baldwin House could use the empty space as a construction staging area.

The state has budgeted $13.3 million for the education center. Classes are scheduled to start in January 2004, a University System spokesman said Wednesday.

Last month, the city and county governments pledged money to buy the McCrory's building if the state funds are available.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, proposed buying the building so it can be torn down.

The council on July 30 voted 4-1 to pledge up to $140,000 for acquisition costs to CHIEF if state money isn't available. Councilwoman Penny May Nigh voted against the proposal.

The city's vote came a week after the Washington County Commissioners pledged up to $300,000 for acquisition and demolition costs.

County Commissioners Paul L. Swartz and William J. Wivell voted against the pledge.

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