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Hospital move clears hurdle

June 14, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

Washington County Hospital officials are a "big step closer" to beginning work on a new facility after meeting with the Hagerstown City Council to discuss water and sewer hookups.

"It will be months yet, but it's a big step closer because of the action of City Council and the meeting we had tonight," said James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Hospital Health System.

During a work session Tuesday, City of Hagerstown staff members presented hospital members estimates of the current costs of providing water and sewer services to a facility near Robinwood Medical Center. According to information provided to City Council members, the hospital's infrastructure costs would total about $7.1 million.

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The costs include a wastewater main upgrade and a prorated portion of a new 6.4 million-gallon water tank.

Additional fees would include the costs of permits and plan reviews by the Maryland State Fire Marshal and the health department, according to the information provided to council members.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire cautioned board members representing the hospital that infrastructure costs are subject to change. The hospital would be responsible for costs current at the time of construction, he said.

According to a two-year-old estimate, the cost of building the 267-bed hospital is $234 million, including the development of infrastructure, said Hamill, who was not at the meeting. He said he believes that figure likely has increased.

Hospital and city officials long were at odds over the hospital's proposed move.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and hospital board chairman Phil Rohrer said Tuesday they were looking to the future of the project.

"I guess what we wanted you to hear tonight is that we're doing the steps that we need to do," Bruchey told hospital board members.

According to hospital attorney Mike Schaefer, engineers now may begin working on drawings detailing infrastructure systems. Hospital officials, he said, are "pretty close" to securing financing for the project.

"The day after (the) closing of financing, we'll be here asking for a permit," Schaefer said outside City Council chambers after the meeting.

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