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Council questions proposal on garages

November 24, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council earlier this week questioned a proposal to have contractors rather than city workers remove two dilapidated garages behind the city-owned Alms House on North Locust Street.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she wanted to see a schedule that shows the reason city workers are too busy to do the job. It wouldn't make sense to pay contractors $18,700, which includes about $5,000 to install a fence on the property, if the job could be done for less money in-house, she said.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer agreed.

"I can't believe (city workers) are that busy," she said.

The Alms House, at 239 N. Locust St., is abandoned, but served as a poorhouse and a hospital during the Civil War. It is believed men died there and were buried nearby.

Larry Bayer, City Community Development manager, said documentation shows there was a cemetery for Civil War soldiers near the garages that are slated for removal.

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"It's very likely there are artifacts back there," he said.

Nigh said The Sons of Confederate Veterans offered to scan the area with metal detectors after the buildings are razed.

She said she wanted to be at the site when the garages are demolished to ensure the Alms House, which was built in the late 18th century, isn't damaged.

In July, Cromer and Nigh suggested converting the house into a Civil War museum. Nigh said Wednesday that idea has stalled, however, until zoning officials determine whether there is enough room for parking.

Nigh said to her knowledge, a museum at the Alms House would need 11 parking spaces to fulfill the zoning requirement. Even after the garages are removed, there still might not be enough parking, she said.

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