County projects front and center

FY 2010

May 11, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

If you go:

What: Public hearing on Washington County's proposed fiscal year 2010 budget

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Kepler Theater at Hagerstown Community College

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- An expanded Arts and Sciences Complex at Hagerstown Community College, a new school for students in pre-K through second grades, and upgrades to make a wastewater treatment plant more environmentally friendly are among the biggest Washington County projects scheduled to receive funding in the next fiscal year.

The projects are part of the county's Capital Improvement Plan, a document that schedules and plans funding for capital improvement projects over the next six years.

The latest draft of the plan budgets about $92.2 million to projects in fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1. That funding is slated to come from a variety of sources, including more than $37 million in state and federal grants as well as county revenue such as bonds, fees and taxes.


The Arts and Sciences Complex at HCC, a $36 million project that includes a new building and the renovation of two others, is slated to get the bulk of its funding, about $22.5 million, next fiscal year. Of that $22.5 million, about $17 million will come from a state grant, and the rest is expected to come from a variety of county sources, including the general fund and transfer tax revenue.

The new building in the complex will be a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, center that has been designed with solar panels and geothermal borings, and will have an energy technology lab, HCC President Guy Altieri told the Washington County Commissioners during an April 28 meeting.

Eastern Primary, a $23 million, approximately 80,000-square-foot school to be built on Yale Drive near the new regional medical center, is scheduled to move into the construction phases in the next fiscal year. The school is needed to ease crowding at other East Hagerstown schools, school board officials have said.

The approximately $8.6 million scheduled to go toward the Eastern Primary project next fiscal year will come from tax-supported bonds and excise tax, according to the Capital Improvement Plan.

The other major school project moving forward next fiscal year is a $14 million replacement building for Antietam Academy, the alternative school that officials said outgrew its facilities even before its building at South Hagerstown High School burned in March. That project is getting about $7.4 million next fiscal year, which comes from a $4.4 million state grant and from tax-supported bonds.

State-mandated upgrades to the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant are scheduled to wrap up in the coming fiscal year. That project, almost $34 million worth of enhanced nutrient-removal upgrades required by the Maryland Department of the Environment, is about 80 percent state-funded. Of the $8.4 million in funding scheduled to go to the project next fiscal year, about $6.8 million will come from a state grant and the rest from self-supported bonds.

Renovation and expansion of the central branch of the Washington County Free Library is another of the larger projects scheduled for funding in the next fiscal year. Construction on that project is scheduled to begin in May 2010.

Projects in the Capital Improvement Plan are prioritized based on factors such as legal mandates, safety hazards and cost, so emergency projects and those that require very little funding are sometimes added to the schedule ahead of others, while less essential and more expensive projects are pushed back.

Some of the new projects added to the plan for next fiscal year include:

o $800,000 to remedy a situation in which methane gas has been found on a property adjacent to the Resh Road Landfill in violation of state regulations that landfill gas be kept within the landfill's property. The county plans to buy the land and construct a cutoff trench, flare system and monitoring wells.

o $465,000 stabilization of the bank of Antietam Creek where erosion is threatening a section of Lehmans Mill Road.

o $300,000 to add a roundabout to the congested intersection of Garis Shop and Poffenberger roads off Alternate U.S. 40 south of Funkstown.

o $250,000 to add a traffic signal to the intersection of Longmeadow Road and Halifax Drive north of Hagerstown to accommodate additional traffic.

o $250,000 to add a traffic signal outside the Smithsburg school complex to improve a busy, low-visibility intersection

o $35,000 to stabilize a settling corner of a concession stand at the Pinesburg Softball Complex near Williamsport

o $12,000 to replace a deteriorating asphalt walkway at Woodland Way Park in Hagerstown with a concrete walkway

Other projects have been pushed back due to revenue constraints, including a replacement school for Bester Elementary, which previously was scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2011 but is now scheduled for 2014, and a west city elementary, which was scheduled to begin in 2011 but is now scheduled for 2020 or later.

The second phase of improvements to Maugans Avenue and an extension to Eastern Boulevard were pushed back to 2016 or later.

Major capital projects receiving
funding in fiscal year 2010:

o Arts and Sciences Complex at HCC --Total cost $36.2 million; $22.5 million in FY10

o Eastern Primary school -- Total cost $22.8 million; $8.6 million in FY10

o Upgrades at Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant -- total cost $33.6 million; $8.4 million in FY10

o Antietam Academy replacement -- total cost $13.7 million; $7.4 million in FY10

o Central library renovation and expansion -- total cost $21.3 million; $5.8 million in FY10

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