County to buy road supply area on Sideling Hill from state

by Kate Shunney & Geoff Fox

Washington County officials voted on Tuesday to accept an offer to buy the old Maryland DOT highway maintenance property on Sideling Hill at 2801 National Pike west of Hancock.

An agenda for the January 31 meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners included the action item, with document related to the facility and property.

Commissioners approved the offer from the Maryland Department of Transportation to buy the salt dome and 2.26-acre property at a cost of $14,029.98.

According to county documents, when the Maryland State Highway Administration moved ownership of that section of National Pike over to Washington County in 1987, the transfer of the highway maintenance facility and salt dome structure fell through in the transfer process.

The salt dome and highway maintenance facility on National Pike west of Hancock. photo by Geoff Fox

County officials have since tried to acquire the land and structure for $1, but Maryland DOT rejected that symbolic sale amount. According to the county, MDOT determined that the fair market value of the acreage and salt dome to be $98,550. The state has offered to sell the property to the county for $14,030, which includes the property, interest and administrative costs.

Commissioner Wayne Keefer said he thinks the offer is at a good price.

The vote for the property purchase took place during the January 31 commissioners’ meeting.

The purchase must go before the Maryland Board of Public Works for a final decision.

The purchase and closing shall occur prior to December 15, 2023.

The expense will be absorbed in the county’s Highway Department’s operating budget under Land & Improvements.

Ashelman and Todd Moser, Real Property Administrator for Washington County, recommended that commissioners accept the sale price offer.

“Retaining the use of the Sideling Hill National Pike maintenance facility is critical to County Highway operations. The facility provides covered salt storage, equipment and material storage and staging, and a satellite trailer for employees working in the far western reaches of the County,” the recommendation reads. Ashelman and Moser note that the western section of roadway that gets maintained by the county stretches from St. Paul Road west of Hagerstown to Allegany County.

“The primary maintenance facility is located in Big Pool and the Sideling Hill facility shortens what would otherwise be up to a 40 mile and an hour round trip journey or longer in inclement weather for material resupply in the Hancock/Sideling Hill area,” they reminded commissioners.