Governor impressed with hospital plan

February 13, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County Health System added a booster on Monday in its quest to build a new hospital on Robinwood Drive: Gov. Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley heard a presentation on the hospital plan during a private lunch meeting with Health System representatives, business leaders and local elected officials.

The Health System plans to move Washington County Hospital from East Antietam Street in Hagerstown to a spot adjoining the current Robinwood Medical Center, taking advantage of amenities already in place.

"It's an exciting concept," O'Malley said. "I think it's one that all agree that Washington County, and indeed all of Western Maryland, would be well served by having a high-quality hospital center that integrates so very many services that we saw on our tour here."


Early on, Hagerstown elected officials questioned whether the hospital belonged on Robinwood Drive, in a neighborhood with worsening traffic problems, but they later redirected their efforts into helping the plan along.

The state, the county and the city agreed to divide the $12 million cost of an improvement project for Dual Highway and Edgewood Drive. The state will pay half and the two local governments the other half.

O'Malley said he followed the debate over the hospital from afar.

"I'm looking forward to working with local leaders and the delegates and also working with Hagerstown, in particular, to make sure that there's a good reuse for the former hospital site," he said.

The project, last estimated to cost $255 million, has received county planning and zoning approvals.

However, it has been held up in court because of an appeal.

Five residents are challenging zoning variances approved for the project. The case is pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

The Health System is urging the residents to drop their appeal.

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