- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The College of Southern Maryland is evaluating five sites now instead of six for a new, centrally located campus to go either in Hughesville or Charlotte Hall.
St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R), who has offered to sell about 20 acres in Charlotte Hall for the new campus, said this week he wouldn’t mind seeing CSM go to Hughesville instead. Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) and Commission President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said their county would be glad to be the home of the new campus.
One property initially offered in Hughesville has been withdrawn, leaving three potential properties in St. Mary’s and two in Charles County for review, said Brad Gottfried, CSM president. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative offered 10 acres in Hughesville, but the site was much smaller than the community college was looking for, Gottfried said.
Among the sites still officially on the table for possible sale to the College of Southern Maryland is Jarboe’s old lumber yard, about 20 acres of industrially zoned property. Jarboe said Monday he thought the SMECO location was best suited for the new campus, until he learned it was off the list.
Once the College of Southern Maryland chooses a site, either the commissioners of St. Mary’s or Charles counties could be asked for acquisition money if the land is to be bought outright, Gottfried said. It’s possible the college could lease land on its own as well, he said; those details haven’t been worked out.
As one of five St. Mary’s County commissioners and after offering his own property for consideration by CSM, Jarboe said, “I’m abstaining from discussions with the commissioners in all that.” However, as a private citizen, he said he supports the new college campus going to Hughesville rather than Charlotte Hall.
“Hughesville is looking for something to spur up its life and energy,” he said.
“The Charles County commissioners were very supportive about paying for it,” he added, “when they’re happy to raise taxes.”
A property just next to the Hughesville bypass is offered as a site by Hughesville Station. Charles County Commissioner Robinson called it “the perfect location” as part of the effort to revitalize Hughesville.
“That would be fine with me,” Robinson said, if St. Mary’s passed on the new campus. While the Charles County commissioners sometimes disagree, he said, “We are in agreement as promoting Hughesville.”
“An expansion of CSM in Charles County would go a long way in meeting the needs of the community we serve,” Kelly said in statement. “And the site in Hughesville would be a great location for their new campus. If this site is selected, I’m prepared to work to help bring this project to fruition.”
“We get the benefit without having to pay for it” beyond the annual share that St. Mary’s contributes to the college, Jarboe said, if the campus goes to Hughesville. St. Mary’s is contributing $3.7 million this fiscal year, as each of the three Southern Maryland local governments contribute to the college, along with state dollars.
“If Hughesville becomes a college town, I don’t think Charlotte Hall would be offended because I think Charlotte Hall is more of a senior town” with older citizens, Jarboe said, including the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.
St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) disagreed with that characterization of Charlotte Hall. “I see a lot of other families moving in there,” he said.
“If [Jarboe] wants it in Hughesville, why not withdraw his land?” Thomas A. Mattingly Sr. (D), a former three-term commissioner who served with Jarboe, said this week.
“Is [Jarboe] withdrawing his bid?” Morgan asked.
Jarboe said if the college doesn’t want his property, he would retain it.
“We are still looking at sites and refining what would particularly be in that campus,” Gottfried said. The core courses of study at the campuses in La Plata, Prince Frederick and Leonardtown will remain where they are.
A centrally located campus would serve as the new home of the Center for Trades and Energy Training and a health education center. The trades and energy center now has a location in Waldorf with a lease that expires in two years.
Beyond that, a fine arts center and new athletic fields could be added, Gottfried said, depending on if there’s enough land.
Neither Hughesville nor Charlotte Hall has a public sewer system. On June 12, Jarboe and the St. Mary’s County commissioners voted to completely remove a $5.3 million public sewer project out of budget plans for Charlotte Hall.
Jarboe made the motion to remove the project. Jarboe had already submitted his own property for the college’s review by the time of the vote.
“I don’t understand how he can continue in the decision making,” Mattingly said. And if the college selects Jarboe’s site, “he expects the county to pay for that,” Mattingly said.
Crystal Hunt, public information officer for Charles County government, said a water and sewer study has been done for Hughesville and design and construction of a sewage treatment plant is programmed for fiscal 2014, which starts next July.
The new college campus project has not formally come before the St. Mary’s commissioners. “Brad [Gottfried] never came to the commissioners and asked for money” for the capital improvement plan in the St. Mary’s County government budget, Morgan said.
By formally presenting it to the board, “at least it can get voted on,” he said. “I’d love to have that campus in St. Mary’s County, but I blame Brad — the failure to come forward to tell us what he wanted,” he said.
John Parlett of Charlotte Hall Commerce Center is offering up to 69 acres along Route 5, just south of Jarboe’s property. Parlett said of the new campus, “It would be a coup for St. Mary’s County to have it in the county. If we can put a college campus in, these people will be buying breakfast, lunch and dinner there … because it will be convenient for them.”
The campus going to Hughesville would put Charlotte Hall in economic competition with the adjacent community, he said.
The St. Charles Companies is offering land, but it is closer to Waldorf, Gottfried said. The Jane G. Henderson Co. of La Plata is offering part of its 134 acres off Mount Wolf Road in Charlotte Hall. That land is near the Indian Creek Estates neighborhood.
Once the college selects a location in either Charles or St. Mary’s, one of the next steps includes a presentation to that board of commissioners. It may take 60 days to evaluate, Gottfried said.