Cumberland Times-News

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December 4, 2013

City offers $300,000 to purchase East Side School if demolition grant secured

CUMBERLAND — An announcement was made Tuesday during the regular meeting of the mayor and City Council that the city is making an offer of $300,000 to purchase the former East Side School, located on Reynolds Street, if the city can secure a grant to demolish the structure.

“It’s one of the first things you see coming into the city. It’s an eyesore,” said Mayor Brian Grim of the boarded-up former elementary school.

East Side School, visible from Interstate 68, was closed in 1984 as a result of school consolidation and has sat vacant since.

The city’s $300,000 offer on the brick structure is contingent upon getting a grant through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to demolish the structure.

Known as a Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact grant, the funds would allow the city to raze the former school and turn it into a green space.

“We want to demolish the building and market the property to a developer,” said Grim.

Efforts to turn the former school into residential housing over the years have been unsuccessful.

The city is attempting to purchase the property from the Potomac Economic Development and Housing Corporation.

In other city news, Shawn Hershberger, economic development coordinator, said the city is going to advertise for an economic development strategic plan.

“We are going to publish a request for proposal for a third party consultant to provide a citywide economic development plan,” said Hershberger.

Council member Dave Kauffman added more details on the plan.

“It will identify capacity and provide an objective assessment of what we have, and what we don’t have,” said Kauffman.

Hershberger said the study was a natural progression of a plan that was done two years ago.

Councilman Nick Scarpelli expressed issues with spending funds on another study.

“I get concerned with plans that cost a lot of money and you get a lot of information that you really don’t utilize,” said Scarpelli.

Scarpelli said that he hoped the study would give specifics and set objectives.

“I don’t want to thow a lot of money at a project which gives us a lot of paper and nothing to bank on,” said Scarpelli.

The city also procured $16,744.66 of additional services from the EADS Group for engineering plans for repairing 525 feet of combined storm/sewer piping found damaged at the site of the Baltimore Avenue improvements project.

The mayor and council also reappointed Steve Colby, Matthew Gilmore and Cheri Yost to three-year terms on the Historic Preservation Commission.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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