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Hagerstown moves to reclaim abandoned Army Reserve facility

February 21, 2012

A city-owned tract that was previously used as a U.S. Army Reserve facility has become nothing but an abandoned lot, prompting Hagerstown officials to begin the process of reclaiming the land.

The 4.6-acre property at the corner of East Franklin and Willard streets was originally leased to the military in 1956, Public Works Manager Eric Deike told the Hagerstown City Council at a work session Tuesday.

Under the terms of the lease, the city could take back the land in the event the Army gave notice of termination, or it abandoned activities on the property for one year.

Deike said city officials were notified in the summer of 2010 that the property had little or no activity on it for quite some time. The Army built several buildings, fencing, lighting and large paved areas for parking and a helicopter landing pad, but apparently no longer uses it, he said.

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City officials have spoken with Army representatives, who indicated that they were no longer interested in using the property, but have not received anything official in writing, Deike said. An engineering firm that maintains the land has also not had any contact with the Army for about eight months, he said.

The five-member council gave Deike the go-ahead to prepare a letter to inform the Army that the city will reclaim the land after 30 days’ notice, in accordance with the city’s rights under the lease. City staff will also begin developing ways to use the land.

Councilman Forrest Easton, who lives nearby, said it’s no secret that the buildings have been abandoned.

“I’ve called law enforcement several times ... on a weekly basis, there’s (kids) climbing on the roof, riding their bikes on the roof, trying to get over the fence,” Easton said. “In the short term, the city could definitely use those garages.”

Deike said the land has three buildings. The largest houses offices, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a shooting range and storage space. The second was used for vehicle maintenance, and the third was mostly used for storage.

— C.J. Lovelace

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