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Commissioners endorse on event center

February 05, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to endorse a feasibility study for a multipurpose event and convention center proposed for the county.

The approval allows the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau to apply for a state grant that would fund up to 70 percent of the study.

The visitors bureau would pay for the rest of the study, visitors bureau Executive Director Ben Hart said.

Hart said the study would cost from $50,000 to $70,000.

The study would help determine the demand, size and cost of a proposed center, as well as three possible locations for the site.

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Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell was the only commissioner to oppose moving forward with the study, saying he wanted more information about the proposal.

"We seem to have these studies that are done that don't go anywhere," Wivell said.

He also suggested the bureau find out how other towns and cities with convention centers have gone about determining the feasibility of such facilities.

Hart said last week the center would seat 3,000 to 6,000 people. It would serve as a venue for meetings, events, trade and consumer shows and concerts and athletic events.

"I think this is one of the most positive steps we can take..." Hart said Tuesday.

Hart said he's looking at funding options for the proposed facility and that none involve asking for money from the commissioners.

Officials at the Convention and Visitors Bureau hope to receive bids for the study by the end of February. Hart said the study will take about 120 days, with completion expected in mid-summer.

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