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Plan for county-owned property in Hagerstown calls for parking lot, bus transfer point

October 01, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- A row of mostly vacant lots purchased by Washington County earlier this year would be developed into a landscaped parking area and transfer point for County Commuter buses under a concept plan presented Tuesday to the County Commissioners.

The plan, drafted by the Washington County Division of Public Works, is the first proposal for the Franklin Street properties, which were purchased by the county in March for $1.6 million.

The concept plan drew mixed reactions Tuesday from the County Commissioners, who differed on how the space should be used and how development there should be funded.

Under the plan, six bus terminals would be built near the intersection of Franklin and Prospect streets.

Three terminals would be built along each street in a sawtooth design.

The center of the property would house 86 parking spaces, most of which would be permit parking for county employees or nearby businesses.

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Four parking spaces would be handicapped-accessible, and seven spaces near the Franklin Street bus terminals would be available for taxis or the public.

The project is estimated to cost $1.5 million. Of that, more than $800,000 would come from county funding, according to an estimate sheet provided by Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth.

County Commissioner William J. Wivell said he understands the need for the transfer point but questioned the prudence of building the parking lot, which would cost more than $480,000 and would have to be funded entirely by the county.

"I don't understand spending that much money on an aesthetically pleasing parking lot," Wivell said.

He suggested a private-public partnership to develop the property.

County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said the county should talk to nearby business and property owners before building anything on the property.

He said their needs and future plans could necessitate something other than a parking deck instead of a lot.

If those businesses, which include a state office, are willing to contribute, a parking deck might be a better idea, Aleshire said.

"Even though I see this as the county's property to develop, it serves as a sort of central node" for surrounding properties, Aleshire said.

Kroboth said he will take the commissioners' suggestions back to the drawing board and draft other potential uses for the properties.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said the county will discuss a proposal "soon" to begin moving employees to the PNC Bank building on West Washington Street.

The county purchased the building in March for $3 million at the same time it purchased the Franklin Street properties.

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