Washington County briefs

August 29, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Officials updated on former Army base

Officials from Washington and Frederick counties attended a briefing Tuesday morning at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base regarding redevelopment at the site.

Columbia, Md.-based Corporate Office Properties Trust, which was hired to develop the former base after it closed in 1998, plans to turn the 591-acre property into a mix of office, residential and retail space.

The two-hour presentation was a broad overview of the project, which will preserve much of the former base's layout and renovate the majority of the 68 historic buildings there, according to Chuck Fiala, senior vice president of government services for COPT.

Washington County Commissioner James F. Kercheval asked Fiala how the Maryland General Assembly's proposed Green Fund bill, which would require developers to pay a fee for impermeable surfaces, would affect the project's parking lots.


William Hoffman, senior property and environmental services manager for COPT, said the company is looking for alternatives to blacktop.

Earlier this month, COPT hired Callas Contractors Inc. to renovate the former base's community center. They also signed a lease with the project's first commercial tenant, Vienna, Va.-based software development company Indus Corp.

Project costs reduced for Edgewood/U.S. 40

Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth said Tuesday that the Maryland State Highway Administration will eliminate roughly $500,000 in overhead costs from the project to expand the intersection of Edgewood Drive and U.S. 40 in Hagerstown.

County and Hagerstown city officials met with the SHA earlier this month to discuss the project's cost, which had risen $3.2 million since the original estimate. The SHA in June said the project would cost $14.4 million because of increased overhead costs and higher prices for paving materials. Kroboth said city and county officials were able to convince the SHA to eliminate some of the overhead, which several county officials said was exorbitant.

Museum request partially funded

The Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum will receive $5,000 from the county's hotel/motel tax to help close a hole in its current budget. The museum asked the county commissioners Tuesday for $10,000 but were granted only half that amount, although the commissioners agreed to discuss the matter again at a later date.

The museum recently lost its major source of funding when CSX cancelled its excursion train program. The museum operates on about $50,000 per year and is staffed by volunteers, Bill Knode of the Hagerstown Roundhouse said.

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