Cumberland Times-News

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July 26, 2013

Memorial Medical Building also will be demolished

CUMBERLAND — The city-owned Memorial Medical Building, once thought to be spared from demolition, will come tumbling down along with the hospital this fall, according to Mayor Brian Grim.

The former Memorial Hospital and associated buildings sit on eight acres encircled by the avenues Ridgewood, Memorial, Kent and Brookfield.

“We had some initial interest from a developer about the medical building, but they backed out. We attempted to interest some nonprofits in the building as well,” Grim said.

About a half-dozen tenants remained in the medical building when the decision was made by the city to raze it.

“The last couple of them are in the process of moving out,” Grim said. Included were offices for a counseling service, dentist, opthalmologist and an insurance company.

The mayor said the additional demolition will not add significantly to the cost of the removal that is still expected to be about $3.5 million. A $250,000 state grant is in hand. The remainder of the cost will be derived from public bond sales.

“The bonus now is that there will be a completely level site in a stable residential neighborhood,” Grim said. “We have no interest being shown at this point from a developer, but the land would lend itself to some sort of residential development, such as an assisted living home or a nursing home,” Grim added. “That would seem like a good fit for the neighborhood.”

Bid packages will be available Aug. 15, according to City Administrator Jeff Rhodes, who anticipates work beginning about Oct. 1.

“Once we award the bid, we will specifically contact residents who live in the immediate vicinity to set up a community forum,” Rhodes said. “We will let them know the timing of the work and where to call if they have a problem. It’s a demolition site, so it won’t be pretty, but the contractor will be required to keep it orderly and maintained.”

Rhodes said early work will have a low public visibility.

“There will be prep work for the demolition. The contractor will go in and remove anything considered to be a hazardous material. At the end of the project the land will be seeded and mulched.”

Grim said he is unsure about the duration of the demolition. “I wish it could happen overnight, but my guess is a couple of months,” he said.

The contractor will actually have 365 days to complete the work, according to Rhodes. “That doesn’t mean it will take that long,” he said.

The parking garages across Memorial Avenue from the old hospital will remain. The hospital was vacated in November 2009 with the opening of the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center on Willowbrook Road.

The Braddock Campus, formerly Sacred Heart Hospital, closed then as well. That property on Seton Drive has been designated as the site for the new Allegany High School.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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