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Some library parking land not secured yet

No final agreement on property owned by Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc.

No final agreement on property owned by Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc.

November 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Hagerstown library project to cost about $22.8 million

HAGERSTOWN -- Sketches of a new, expanded downtown Hagerstown library show the building, the grounds and the neighborhood.

Plans also show a large chunk of required parking on land now owned by the nonprofit Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc., according to state property records.

Richard W. Phoebus Sr., the partnership's president, said Wednesday that some or all of that land will be sold to the county, but there's no final agreement yet.

Joseph Kroboth III, Washington County's public works director, said Thursday that the county commissioners should have a purchase agreement to approve by the end of the year.

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After a celebration ceremony Wednesday, Washington County Free Library Director Mary Baykan said she expects ground to be broken around late May 2010 and the work to take about 18 months.

The plan is to improve the current building, an estimated 44,500 square feet, and add another 47,500 square feet, according to a county report from May.

In February 2005, Phoebus announced that the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership planned to build 30 town houses on East Baltimore Street. The project then grew -- it was approved for 47 units, with the possibility of another 20, he said this week.

Phoebus said a developer backed out in January 2008. Three or four other developers expressed interest.

But the partnership took the land off the market when it heard the library might need it, he said.

Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he supports the library project, but has concerns.

One is that some parking lot land hasn't been acquired, yet the project is moving ahead. Another is that surface parking is being constructed for a downtown project.

Kroboth said the expanded library normally would need around 180 to 200 parking spaces, based on a rough estimate of building space, but the city is lowering the requirement because a parking deck is nearby.

In September, Joseph F. Kuhna, the county's real property administrator, said the library project will need 144 parking spaces, factoring in the break because of the parking deck.

At that September meeting, the county commissioners voted to pay $215,000 for a parking lot behind 29-33 E. Antietam St., the former Washington Spy restaurant.

The city of Hagerstown requires one parking space per 400 square feet for a library, according to Kathleen Maher, the city's planning director. That only applies to net floor space, so areas such as hallways are excluded, she said.

Kroboth said the library expansion will cover the current spaces, so all of the future parking will be on newly acquired land.

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