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County to get $600,000 for senior-citizen center

Money was previously allocated to Baltimore for a project that has since been abandoned

February 23, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Sondra Crumbacker leads a group in step aerobics at the Senior Center at Girls Inc. in Hagerstown,
File photo

ANNAPOLIS — Washington County, as it builds a senior-citizen center, will benefit from money Baltimore City will not use.

Washington County will get $600,000 that was allocated to Baltimore several years ago for a project that since has been abandoned, according to Mike Lachance, the legislative liaison for the Maryland Department of Aging.

The unused money will be a boon to Washington County, which had requested $800,000 for its senior-center project but apparently had little chance of getting it in the coming fiscal year.

Lachance said Wednesday that this is the first time in his 26 years on the job that he can remember there being no money available in the department's capital-grant program, which is a matching fund.

Washington County Administrator Gregory Murray did not return messages for comment left at his office and on his cell phone on Wednesday.

Washington County is planning to build a $5.8-million senior center on the Hagerstown Community College campus.

Conceptual plans show a roughly 24,000-square-foot facility with a gymnasium, kitchen, Internet cafe, multipurpose dining room and a variety of meeting and activity rooms, including a computer lab, game room and art room, The Herald-Mail has reported.

Joseph Kroboth III, Washington County's director of public works, said Tuesday that the design of the senior center is nearly finished and construction could start around June.

State and private grant funding for the project will have to be set up before it can be advertised for construction bids, Kroboth told the Washington County Commissioners.

While the county had expected $1 million for the project from a private foundation, officials recently learned the actual award might be only $250,000. But he said the county has money to cover the difference because of other projects coming in under budget.

The county hopes to develop a network of senior centers across the area in the next 10 years, according to its fiscal 2011 Capital Improvement Plan.

Lachance said $800,000 is the maximum grant for which a local agency can apply through the Department of Aging, as Washington County did.

After getting the $600,000 that Baltimore didn't use, Washington County can apply for an additional $200,000 for fiscal 2013, he said.

Staff Writer Heather Keels contributed to this story

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