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Campus opening set

startup money needed

September 25, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center in downtown Hagerstown is on schedule and set to open for the 2004-05 school year despite concerns about startup funds, a University System official said Tuesday.

"We're on track with schedule, budget and the construction is fully funded," Mark Beck, capital planning director for the University System, said after a meeting between a local steering committee and University System officials at the Frostburg State University Center in Hagerstown.

Beck said work is expected to continue at the old Baldwin House complex site through spring 2004.

The state has budgeted $13.3 million to renovate the complex. The University System will ask for about $500,000 for startup costs during the next General Assembly session, said Chris Hart, University System spokesman. He said that money would fund initial operating and service costs.

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State Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, said the state budget will be tight. But, he said, "We've already invested $14 million in the project, it would be foolish not to invest another half million."

Renovations under way at the Baldwin House and former Routzahn's department store include repairing roofs and removing mold, rotted wood, lead paint and asbestos.

Beck said that phase of the construction should be finished by Thanksgiving.

"It's looking so nice inside," Beck said.

The actual renovation work, to include design work and preliminary deconstruction, will begin around January if the Board of Public Works approves contracts next month, he said.

"We have all the money we need to get the building completely renovated," Beck said.

Munson said during the meeting that he would like "people from this community working on this project."

University System Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan said after the meeting that due to a rigorous open bid process and clearly stated criteria for contractors he can't make any promises about who will work on the education center.

"It would be a wonderful thing, but we'll have to follow what the rules and regulations are," he said.

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