Vandalism expedites plans to demolish bar

January 17, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

The Duke's Place in Sykesville was scheduled to be demolished yesterday, one day after a one-alarm fire damaged the roof of the former bar, which had a history of brawls and illegal gambling, said a county official.

The bar closed last year, and its demolition was originally planned for later this month. But the contractor, R & R International of Columbia, decided to expedite demolition of the vacant building to prevent future vandalism, said Elizabeth Calia, chief of the county public works' roads, bridges and streams division. Vandals broke into the building in December, and again Thursday night, setting the fire, she said.

The fire was reported shortly after 1 a.m. Friday in the one-story bar at 310 West Friendship Road, said Lt. Jeff King, a spokesman for the Howard County Fire and Rescue Services Department. About 40 firefighters from four fire stations in Howard County and one in Sykesville responded, extinguishing the fire about an hour later, he said.

When the firefighters arrived, Lieutenant King said flames were shooting from the roof.

"We're not sure how it started," Lieutenant King said, adding that the State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

No injuries were reported during the blaze, and because the building was going to be demolished, there was no dollar estimate for the damage, Lieutenant King said.

Last year, the tavern, which sits in a flood plain on 1.3 acres near the Patapsco River, closed as part of the county's Flood Management Program. The program's purpose is to find the most cost-effective way to help buildings in peril of flood waters.

As part of the agreement between the county and the tavern's owners, the county -- with the state's assistance -- bought The Duke's Place for $174,000 for the property and improvements, ++ said Kenneth Alban, an administrative officer for the county's recreation and parks department.

According to Ms. Calia, after the demolition, the debris will be removed, topsoil will be poured and wildflowers will be planted. Eventually, the site will become a park, she said.

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