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County selects lowest cost option for West City Elementary

County selects lowest cost option for West City Elementary

Infrastructure costs total $1.2 million LESS than next desirable property option
Hagerstown, MD (September 21, 2012) -The Washington County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to acquire the 16.5-acre tract of land for the new West City Elementary School. While collaborating with the Washington County Public School System, a committee comprised of school and County staff researched 22 sites and ultimately narrowed down to three parcels that would be suitable for the project.
Based on objective criteria, three final sites referred to as Site 11, 19, and 22, all located near Hager's Crossing Drive and Garland Groh Boulevard, were selected as the top three options to efficiently and effectively meet the school construction project needs. Through much negotiation, Site 19, the least cost option to the taxpayer for construction of this school, was able to be acquired.
Price Negotiation
The County negotiated down an asking price for Site 19 from $2.4 million to approximately $1.6 million. The site chosen has less infrastructure costs as compared to the two other preferred parcels, Site 22 and Site 11 that were selected. When analyzing the total picture, the County needed to insure that overall cost was the primary consideration leading to the most fiscally sound decision.
The next most desirable property, Site 22, was priced at $2 million and would have required $1.2 million MORE in infrastructure development costs. Site 22 was almost identical in size, and in general proximity of Site 19, so this property would have needed to be purchased for only $400,000 dollars to EQUAL the value of Site 19 ($1.2M infrastructure + $.4M purchase = $1.6M). That would be lower than even the original assessment for Site 19, and not near what other properties in the area, much less the Site 22 price, would bring.
Anything above the $400,000 mark made Site 22 more expensive than Site 19, and the seller of Site 22 was asking $2 million.
Another consideration factored into the decision was that the Site 19 location may become eligible for other grants during the construction and operational phases of the school, saving even more taxpayer dollars. Fortunately, the total approved package was negotiated to a floor level that saved substantial cost to the project and the taxpayer, with overall cost BELOW the next TWO comparable less desirable sites, and allowing the project to move forward to keep cost lower in a time when construction prices are rising.
Project Summary
The Washington County Board of Education, after conclusion of required public hearings, made a decision to close two older schools serving this general area and consolidate into one new, more up-to-date facility that not only costs less to operate, but most importantly provides more educational opportunities to the youth that would attend the school.
This decision saves over $10.2 million over the alternative of rehabilitating the current schools being closed, and that would still be constricted by several factors. Given the BOE decision, and a decision on where such a school should be located given the evaluation factors/matrix listed herein, negotiations began for the top three sites ultimately leading to the purchase of the number one and least costly site. Planning will now start for the facility, and a final timeline will be developed by the Board of Education for construction and opening of the new school.
Additional Information
Criteria Used:
Parcels of land that were considered generally met the following basic criteria:
- Approximately 15 or more acres of land;
-Reasonably close to residential developments;
- Adequate infrastructure capable of servicing the proposed school;
- A site geographically located such that consolidation of Winter Street and Conococheague would be practical; and
- Within the State of Maryland designated priority funding area to meet State guidelines for acceptable school sites.
The second phase of the study required a more detailed analysis and 13 evaluation factors were considered on each site as follows:
- Estimated acquisition costs
- Public water service extension cost
- Sanitary sewer extension cost
- Availability of public utilities
- Zoning compatibility
- Safe routes to school
- Floodplain proximity
- Off-site transportation
- On-site transportation
- Difficulty of grading
- Student enrollment projections
- Proximity to existing schools
To view details of the study, sites, and more visit:
About Washington County, Maryland Government
Washington County, Maryland Government strives to fulfill its duty to the citizens of Washington County with regard to operational efficiency, fiscal responsibility, and responsiveness to the needs of the community. This vision is used to ably assist the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County in achieving goals for moving the County forward as present needs and future plans are addressed.
According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the Washington County General Fund has one of the lowest cost per capita for services provided of all 23 counties and Baltimore City. This is attributed to the efficiency, staffing levels, and cost containment exhibited in Washington County Government operations. Visit for more information.
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