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Hagerstown Community College rejected as senior center site

November 06, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • This is an artist's rendering of the new senior center to be built on the Hagerstown Community College campus. County government will build a senior activities center at a proposed site on the Hagerstown Community College campus, but will have it redesigned without a second floor to reduce the cost, the Washington County Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday.
Herald-Mail file photo

Hagerstown Community College was eliminated on Tuesday as a site for a Washington County senior citizen center, but another option looms — a former U.S. Army Reserve facility in Hagerstown.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 on Tuesday to reject the low bid for the project at HCC.

The commissioners didn’t mention the former Army Reserve facility at East Franklin and Willard streets on Tuesday, but it emerged as a leading possible substitute last month.

Washington County Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said he’ll await further direction from the commissioners.

The Reserve building — which the city of Hagerstown owns — is in good condition, but needs a modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and new carpet, floor tiles and kitchen equipment, he said.

County Administrator Gregory B. Murray and City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman have talked about the possibility of the Reserve building as a senior center.

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Zimmerman said during a phone interview Tuesday that the city would consider a proposal if the county sends one.

“I think it needs to be a discussion with the mayor and council,” he said.

Kroboth said the decision might be up to the mayor and council members elected Tuesday. They will be sworn in on Nov. 27.

The commissioners’ vote was disappointing, but not unexpected, said Bill Beard, the chairman of the Washington County Commission on Aging’s property committee.

“We’ve been working on this for at least six years and this was a solution that had free land and lots of parking and dedicated space for the seniors,” he said of the HCC site, “so it really does represent a big setback. But to say it was unexpected, no .... It came in over budget and the budget is not elastic.”

A temporary senior center has operated at Girls Inc. in Hagerstown since September 2008. It will move to Western Maryland Hospital Center by the end of June 2013.

In recent weeks, commissioners have expressed doubts about the plan to build a senior center at HCC because of the potential cost.

A first round of bids came in over budget.

The project was scaled back and rebid. The lowest base bid in the second round was $5.96 million, submitted by Roy C. Kline Contractors LLC of Smithsburg. With allowances and a unit price schedule, the contract would be $6.38 million.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said last month that, with contingency expenses, the project cost could grow to as much as $7.5 million.

Commissioner John F. Barr wasn’t there for Tuesday’s vote. He has excused himself from discussions of the project because his company, Ellsworth Electric, was a potential subcontractor.

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