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Drawings for new Washington County senior center unveiled

August 07, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • The Baltimore-based architecture firm Murphy & Dittenhafer provided these concept drawings for a new Washington County senior activities center.
Design courtesy of Murphy & Dittenhafer

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Concept drawings for a new Washington County senior activities center were unveiled this week, showing several side elevations and an overhead view of what the 19,200-square-foot facility could look like by 2015.

Speaking to the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Robert Slocum, deputy director of the county Division of Public Works, said the design phase for the project at 21 Willard St. in Hagerstown is about a third of the way complete.

“We’re very close and excited to be on target for all the real costs and a January design completion,” Slocum told the five commissioners.

With a budget of a little more than $4 million, the project is expected to go out for construction bids this winter, Slocum said.

“The $4 million cost mark is basically from what is out there today, to what they want when we open the door,” Slocum said Wednesday. “That’s a turnkey cost.”

Officials are targeting spring 2015 for the opening of the facility, which will include office space for the Washington County Commission on Aging.

The Baltimore-based architecture firm of Murphy & Dittenhafer was awarded a $209,000 design contract for the project in April.

Since then, the architect has gathered feedback from county officials and the commission on aging to develop an initial concept for the center.

The main building on the 4.5-acre property will have offices for the commission on the side of the structure that faces Willard Street, with activity space for senior citizens on the other end, according to architectural renderings.

Plans for the activity center include a large auditorium space, with a middle divider to allow for activities, as well as meals to be served from a kitchen facility, Slocum said.

Other areas include a computer education room with Internet access, as well as two designated exercise rooms — one larger with equipment and one smaller for activities such as yoga.

Another concept being explored is the incorporation of an Internet cafe-type area, where people can socialize, have coffee and grab a bite to eat, Slocum said.

He said the project as it currently exists only involves construction of the primary building on the property, landscaping and grading, and parking upgrades.

Possible reuses of two outbuildings near the main structure are still being considered, but one idea is to install a swimming pool in one of them, he said. However, there currently is no funding set aside for further redevelopment of those two buildings.

The majority of paved area on the site will be removed in favor of green space and walking paths to promote outdoor activity, according to Slocum, who said an outdoor pavilion and a gardening area on the western portion of the property are two possibilities to be added later.

“There’s a lot that we can take advantage of with this space,” he said.

When completed, there will be about 125 on-site parking spaces and County Commuter bus service to the center, according to initial plans.

“We’re certainly going to have transit service provided to this site,” Slocum said. “... There’s going to be ample handicap parking. We’re actually going to exceed what the code requires.”

Establishing a permanent senior center has been a desire of county officials for years. A temporary facility has been operating at Girls Inc. of Washington County at 626 Washington Ave. in Hagerstown.

The new location — in a residential area at the corner of East Franklin and Willard streets next to the Hagerstown Greens at Hamilton Run golf course — served as a military facility before it ceased operation.

The county purchased the property from the city for $625,000 in November 2012.

Design and construction costs are funded through the county’s Capital Improvement Budget.

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