Hagerstown City Council votes to sell site for new senior citizens' center

December 04, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE |

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday narrowly passed an ordinance to authorize the sale of a former U.S. Army Reserve property to Washington County for a new senior citizens’ center.

After some discussion, the five-member council voted 3-2 in favor of the motion to enter into a $625,000 sale agreement with the county for the 4.6-acre property at 21 Willard St., in accordance with terms and conditions outlined in the ordinance.

Council members Kristin B. Aleshire and Penny Nigh voted against it.

Aleshire said he didn’t agree with selling the property, which will be purchased using federal Community Development Block Grant money.

He said it would be smarter to lease the property and use Community Development Block Grant funding to renovate the property instead. Nigh agreed.

The Army had leased the property from the city for the past six decades at a cost of $1 per year, much like the county had planned to do at Hagerstown Community College before its deal for a senior center there fell apart.

Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner, Martin E. Brubaker and Donald F. Munson did not agree with Aleshire, and all supported the motion to sell the property near the Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run golf course.

“It’s about time the City of Hagerstown got compensated by the federal government,” Metzner said. “They’ve been using this property for over 60 years and the citizens of this community have been paid $60.”

Aleshire initially called it a “waste” of federal money, “for lack of a better term.”

Brubaker objected, saying that if it wasn’t used for this purchase the money would be used in other communities somewhere else.

“It won’t be wasted,” he said, noting the former Municipal Electric Light Plant building, relocating the county Board of Education or other downtown redevelopment as potential uses. “I don’t consider that a waste of money.”

Metzner, who moved to approve the ordinance, said a final purchase agreement was not included in his motion.

Brubaker requested that the money from selling the property be transferred into a one-time use fund, rather than into the city’s General Fund, for consideration for needed city projects outside of the general operating budget.

The property still needs to gain a special exception from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals to allow a senior center to operate on the premises. That hearing will take place Dec. 19.

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