County seeking $2 million to raze old Allegany High

The former Allegany High School on Sedgwick Street appears in this Allegany County Public Schools file photo.

CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Commissioners requested $2 million in state funding Thursday for demolition of the former Allegany High School on Sedgwick Street.

The request was made during a meeting between the commissioners and the Western Maryland District 1 legislative delegation at the county office complex on Kelly Road.

The commissioners and the delegation hold an annual pre-legislative meeting prior to the opening of the Maryland General Assembly's session in Annapolis, which will convene on Jan. 8.

The county hopes to demolish the former school and transfer the property over to a developer to construct single-family homes and community park facilities. 

The source for the demolition cost would come from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Developments Strategic Demolition Fund.

The county has also discussed the possibility of permitting businesses for the site. At Thursday's meeting, the commissioners also requested an additional $500,000 for installing infrastructure such as water and sewer lines, and fiber optic lines at the location.

Jake Shade, president of the county commission, made the funding requests. He said asbestos at the former school will add to the cost of demolition.

"Our big request this year is for the Allegany site," said Shade. "We are going to be seeking $2 million for demolition. We are looking at asbestos inspections. It is in areas where people were not meant to be. There is some asbestos abatement that we are going to have go through."

The former Allegany High School was built in 1926. A new $55 million Allegany was constructed on Haystack Mountain and opened in August of last year.

Del. Mike McKay urged the commissioners to look at all options for the location. He said the original idea for the site was to utilize the location for economic development opportunities.

Brandon Butler said the former school would be a challenge to rehabilitate.

"The property has been heated by a coal-fired boiler and we were told by a developer that it would be incredibly difficult to stand that boiler back up by way of MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) regulations," said Butler.

Del. Wendell Beitzel said several older structures in Garrett County have been converted to apartment complexes. He said some coal-fired boilers were converted to natural gas.

However, Creade Brodie Jr. said the former school is in bad shape.

"The engineers reports when all this started in 2011 ... because the way (the school's sections) are hodgedpodged together, to try to turn it into apartment buildings would be very hard and expensive," said Brodie.

Sen. George Edwards said the $2 million request for the demolition was already being reviewed. The delegation officials said they would check on the status of the request.

One proposal for the former school was made this summer when two local businessmen submitted plans for a recording studio and live music performance venues in the gymnasium and auditorium. 

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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