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University conducting analysis of reuse plans

February 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A group of University of Virginia architecture students and faculty is conducting an analysis of Hagerstown as possible reuse plans for Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End are developed.

The property off Mitchell Avenue was put on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites in 1997.

The city, working with consultant E2 of Charlottesville, Va., has established a land use committee with about 25 members, including government officials, the president of Central Chemical, citizens and members of nonprofit organizations.

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The committee has been meeting for several months, most recently Thursday night at City Hall.

The committee is charged with recommending future uses for the property.

The city's funding for the $63,186 contract with the consultant came from the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, an EPA program that funds community-based reuse planning efforts at Superfund sites.

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia has received government grants to analyze that EPA program to see if it could be improved.

As part of that analysis, it was decided to do some case studies looking at specific places where the EPA was spending money through the program.

Hagerstown was chosen for a case study because of its proximity to the university and since "it is quite typical of industrial towns," said Julie Bargmann, college associate professor of landscape architecture.

The city has growth potential despite industrial demise, she said.

"Unlike some post-industrial towns completely depleted by closing industries, Hagerstown has potential as a good place to live because of its varied and intact housing stock, and may be attractive to businesses and workers with its proximity to major highways and to Washington D.C.," Bargmann said.

Bargmann and Daniel Bluestone, a professor of architectural history, are leading students in an examination of the city's history - its industries, downtown and neighborhoods.

The students are developing scenarios for the future uses of the Central Chemical Site, along with ideas for potential revitalization of other parts of the city.

That analysis will be presented to the Hagerstown City Council and the land use committee, she said.

"The City welcomes the efforts of the UVA students to develop reuse ideas and schematics for the Central Chemical site," Hagerstown Planning Director Kathleen Mahrer said. "As outsiders, they will not be limited by the preconceptions that locals may have as to what is appropriate or feasible for the site. Their potentially 'different' ideas will be very enlightening and will aid our discussions. With a project as complex as this one, the more heads thinking about the problem, the better. I look forward to seeing the work of the UVA students."

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