The College of Southern Maryland plans to build a fourth campus in Hughesville instead of Charlotte Hall, college officials announced Wednesday.
The new campus will initially host a 40,000-square-foot Center for Trades and Energy, to replace a smaller, leased facility in Waldorf. It could also eventually include a consolidated health sciences facility, a new fine arts center and more athletic fields.
The college will purchase 50 acres owned by Hughesville Station LLC for $770,000, CSM President Brad Gottfried said Wednesday. Either the college or Charles County government will pay for the land or it could be a joint purchase, Gottfried said in an interview.
The largely undeveloped property is across the Route 5 Hughesville bypass from a Harley-Davidson dealer. Two families currently living on the land will have to move, and the college also has the option to buy 20 more acres there within six months. “We’ve got growth potential there and I think that’s critically important,” Gottfried said.
“The college’s administrators and trustees took additional time to ensure that we made the right decision,” Austin J. Slater Jr., board chairman of the college board of trustees said in a statement. “We used the following factors in our decision: cost, accessibility, visibility, size and ease of development. We’re confident that this property meets our criteria and we’re pleased to be moving forward.”
“It’s right adjacent to [Route] 5,” Gottfried said. “It is not far from St. Mary’s County and Charlotte Hall. It’s a prime location for us.” The new campus doesn’t have direct access to Route 5 or Route 231 and would be accessed by Foster Lane, Gottfried said.
The new campus will be in a central location for all three Southern Maryland counties, Gottfried said. He noted that currently first-year health care students have classes at each of three Southern Maryland campuses in La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, but the second-year students must all attend the health sciences facility in La Plata.
The state may contribute up to 75 percent of the construction costs for the new facilities, with 25 percent coming possibly from Charles County government.
The College of Southern Maryland initially evaluated five properties last spring — three in Charlotte Hall, one in Hughesville and one in Waldorf. The selling prices ranged from $1.5 million to $4.5 million.
One of those offering property was St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R), who suggested the site of an old lumber mill next to the farmer’s market in Charlotte Hall.
One of the specifications for the new campus then was central sewer service. Last June, at Jarboe’s initiative, the St. Mary’s County commissioners removed a project to bring public sewer to Charlotte Hall from county plans.
Then last summer the college released those original bidders and “we looked at anything and everything for sale” in the area, Gottfried said.
The new campus property has no central water or sewer service and the college will install its own facilities, he said. “It’s certainly not a deal breaker.”
Candice Quinn Kelly (D), president of the Charles County commissioners, said in a statement, “Locating the fourth campus in Hughesville demonstrates the commitment of the College of Southern Maryland and the Charles County commissioners to making higher education more accessible, and Charles County is honored to have the College of Southern Maryland presence in an area that the commissioners are focusing on for revitalization.”
“I think it is safe to say that this exciting decision by the College of Southern Maryland is the official jumpstart of our Hughesville Revitalization Plan,” said Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) in a statement. “The county will assist in any way possible to make this happen sooner, rather than later and we hope this is the beginning of establishing a college town atmosphere for Hughesville.”
Jarboe said last August he preferred seeing the new campus go to Hughesville because Charlotte Hall was a community more oriented to senior citizens. “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,” he said then.
“Commissioner Jarboe didn’t help the situation any damn bit,” St. Mary’s Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said Wednesday after CSM’s announcement that it would be locating new campus in Charles rather than St. Mary’s County.
“Jarboe’s arrogance through the whole process was partly to blame...” said John Parlett, a Charlotte Hall-based developer who also offered 68 acres to the college for $4.5 million. Jarboe “insisted it shouldn’t be in St. Mary’s County after he already bid on the project.” Jarboe offered his 22 acres for $1,852,150.
“I still think it’s an inferior location personally,” Parlett said of the Hughesville location. “There’s no restaurants, no grocery stores.”
“There was support” from some St. Mary’s commissioners for the campus coming to Charlotte Hall, Gottfried said, “and it really came down to a property that would work for us. It was certainly helpful the Charles County commissioners expressed overwhelming support for the campus as well.”
“It’s fine they got their land at such a good discount,” Morgan said, but he wondered how the three Southern Maryland counties would share costs for developing the property, the private well and private wastewater treatment facility and the new campus buildings.
“There’s never been any good open conversation about this,” he said. “They never approached me as an individual to talk about this one bit.”
“Nothing has been in stone. It’s been very flexible in what they want to tell us,” Jarboe said Thursday of the college’s land search. “I bid on a much smaller project than a regional college, basically an industrial arts center,” he said. He said he wasn’t planning on a regional campus going on his old lumber yard. The college’s request for proposal said it was seeking sites “for the development and operation of a self-contained college campus.”
The new campus going to Hughesville is “a good regional location,” Jarboe said. Charles County government gets the bill for the infrastructure needed and in St. Mary’s, “we’ll end up getting the business.”