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Hagerstown officials to meet with electric plant owner about razing building

May 12, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the city's decision to build a fence around the former Municipal Electric Light Plant was an immediate response to secure a building that could pose a health threat to people who go inside.

In the meantime, city officials will meet with the owners of the building, Partners Marketing LLP of Staunton, Va., to discuss a timely, cost-effective way to raze the structure, he said.

"This is a nasty situation," he said. "It's going to take a lot of time and money."

Metzner said there is a high probability that the abandoned, condemned building is full of loose asbestos fibers, which would be dangerous to people who trespass inside.

City officials have said the building has been the site of periodic break-ins and homeless people sometimes live there.

Because the building probably has a lot of asbestos, Metzner said he estimated the demolition cost would reach well into the seven-figure range. It is essential to ensure that the city brokers a deal with the owners so taxpayers don't get stuck with the bill, he said.

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On Tuesday, the City Council released a statement saying city officials would seek a contractor to build a chain-link fence around the property to deter trespassers.

The fence is to be 8 feet high with barbed wire along the top, said John Lestitian, the city's chief code compliance officer.

Metzner said the city's public statement failed to say the fence was only the first step toward demolition.

Lestitian said he didn't know how much the fence would cost or when it would be built, but the city would send the bill to Partners Marketing LLP.

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