Saturday, August 5, 2017

Historic airport farm site can't be razed until artifact search: Hagerstown Regional Airport (KHGR)



More digging for possible artifacts needs to be done before Washington County can have historical farmstead structures on Hagerstown Regional Airport property razed.

Airport Director Phil Ridenour said the goal is to take care of the remaining steps to record the farm's historical nature and demolish structures on the farm before a memorandum of agreement, or MOA, with the Federal Aviation Administration and Maryland Historical Trust expires in May 2018.

Ridenour said he would like to have the land regraded by then to make it available for use as farmland. A farmer is leasing the barn and property around it for pasture and cropland, he said.

The structures are on an 85-acre tract of farmland southeast of the airfield that the county bought in 1999 as part of a runway expansion project.

The site is known as the Brumbaugh-Kendle-Grove Farmstead.

It is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Washington County Historical Trust's website.

The farmstead — first settled in the mid-18th century — is eligible for its "connection with the early settlement of Washington County and the history of agriculture in the county" in the late 19th and 20th centuries, the website said.

Under the MOA, county officials sought an aviation-related reuse for the property, with demolition as a last resort.

With no results for a reuse or relocation of the buildings on or off airport property, the county decided last summer to pursue demolition.




The buildings are a security risk for the airport, and the house has already been broken into, Ridenour said.

Ditches need to be dug to search for more artifacts before the deteriorated structures can be razed. There is a farmhouse, smokehouse, barn, silo and loafing shed for cattle.

The estimated cost of the archeological and architectural recordings, the demolition and the regrading of the land is $600,000, Ridenour said.

The county expects to be reimbursed 95 percent of the cost. The FAA would pay for 90 percent, and the state would cover 5 percent.

Ridenour said it is still possible the silo might be disassembled and reassembled for use elsewhere. He is also hoping several materials, including barn wood, can be recycled or reused.

Some pictures of the buildings were already taken as part of the runway project, and some digging has occurred. Small items like old utensils and glassware were found, Ridenour said.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a budget amendment last week for the airport's capital-improvement plan.

Funds budgeted for two other projects, an environmental assessment and terminal expansion, are being used for the project and an updated airport layout plan.

Ridenour said the FAA did not have funding lined up for the terminal expansion in the near future.

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