What's wrong with this picture?

April 24, 2011
  • The U.S. Army Reserve property on Willard Street is covered with tall grass and weeds.
By Heather Keels/Staff Writer

The problem: Tall grass and weeds cover the U.S. Army Reserve property on Willard Street, which is owned by the City of Hagerstown.

“It’s a terrible mess,” said Hagerstown resident Martha Kline, who called in about the issue. “It’s about a foot and a half tall, over the whole entire block of the armory.”

Who could fix it: City of Hagerstown or U.S. Army Reserve

What they say: Hagerstown Public Works Manager Eric Deike said that while the city owns the property, it was leased in the 1950s to the U.S. Army Reserve for a term of 99 years, during which the Army Reserve was to operate and maintain the facility.

However, the Army Reserve has apparently stopped using the facility, Deike said.

“The U.S. Army has told us they are going to relinquish control of the property, but that has not happened,” he said.

The city’s attorneys have made several inquiries by phone and mail about the status of that transaction, and the need for maintenance of the property, Deike said.

“I have a feeling that somewhere along the way, we may have to step in (and mow), but legally we shouldn’t be on the property, based on the agreements that were in place for the last 50 years,” he said.

Asked to look into the issue, Lt. Col. Maria Quon, a spokeswoman for the Army Reserve, said  the property is one of about 115 reserve facilities now in a “divesting” process. The Hagerstown armory site is in “caretaker status,” and its contract is to be managed by the 99th Regional Support Command out of Fort Dix, N.J., she said.

“They have assured me it will be mowed early next week, after the Easter holiday,” Quon said Friday. “They are checking into why it was allowed to be unkept in the first place.”

Quon said it was possible that the time between mowings had been stretched due to budget cuts.

 — Compiled by Heather Keels

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