Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Town and College Announce Agreement on Armory

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Town of Chestertown and Washington College have announced an agreement that will, if fully realized, transfer ownership of the Chestertown Armory to the College. The announcement follows a Town Council vote Monday night, December 5, on the most recent proposal from the College.

Under the agreement, the College agrees to pay the remaining debt service on the Armory property, estimated at $320,000, to reimburse the Town for approximately $10,000 already spent on an environmental study of the property, and to bear the costs of all future environmental remediation of the site. In addition, the College will provide easements that allow the continuation of the Chester River promenade along the waterfront portion of the Armory site, and will provide access to the promenade from Quaker Neck Road. Finally, the College pledges to provide no fewer than five days per year of community access to the Armory.

The Town and the College will now begin the lengthy process of negotiating the transfer of the property with the Maryland Department of Planning’s Clearinghouse for surplus state property, the Maryland Department of General Services, and the Board of Public Works. Included within this process will be negotiations with both the Maryland Military Department and the Maryland Historic Trust on appropriate easements and other conditions for the transfer.

Once the College assumes ownership of the property, it must undertake a full evaluation of the conditions of the buildings and grounds, retain the services of an architectural firm to develop plans for the renovation, and launch a fund raising drive before any work can commence. The College has pledged to work collaboratively with the Town Planning Commission in the rehabilitation of the Armory property.

In a letter to the Council dated December 5, Washington College President Mitchell B. Reiss reported that the school’s Board of Visitors and Governors, following discussions held during its regularly scheduled meeting December 2 and 3, agreed to make a gift of $200,000 to the Town of Chestertown.

“The Board wanted the College to make a significant contribution to advance Chestertown’s vision for the Chester River waterfront,” Reiss explained Tuesday in acknowledging the agreement. “The $200,000 will assist the Town with master planning, infrastructure, and recreational initiatives.”

President Reiss expressed his appreciation to the Town Council, Mayor Margo Bailey and Town Manager Bill Ingersoll for their persistence and faith in pursuing a fair and mutually beneficial resolution to the issue. “We look forward to working with the Town as we go forward with plans to build a state-of-the art waterfront campus — plans that will incorporate the historic Armory property and be a point of pride for Washington College and the entire Chestertown community.”