Amid confusion, commissioners approve Westminster building renovations

June 16, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

The Carroll County Commissioners yesterday approved up to $40,000 for renovations to the Carroll County Citizen's Complex in Westminster, which houses Human Services Programs, the state Department of Social Services, Carroll County Food Sunday and other county offices.

Or maybe not.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy -- the only two commissioners at the meeting -- can't agree on what they approved.

Mr. Lippy said he thought the pair had approved an engineering study for the property.

Mr. Dell said he thought they had approved the actual work.

The renovations -- which would include tearing down a roofless building that served as a boiler room for the former distillery -- may be shelved because the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Westminster's central business zone.

County officials want to turn the area, located behind the Sherwood tower, into a 32-space parking lot. The county currently is paying Westminster about $140 a month for county employees to park in the LeRoy L. Conaway parking lot.

"This is in its embryonic stage," said Mr. Lippy of the plans, which evolved from discussions with Westminster officials. "[City officials] have said the buildings as they are now are nothing more than an eyesore."

Mr. Dell said Public Works Director Keith Kirschnick has been told to demolish the building, spread 6 inches of crushed stone over the area and install parking barriers. Then Mr. Kirschnick will decide whether he has money in his budget to pave the lot, Mr. Dell said.

Other options include allowing Westminster officials to create the lot and leasing the space back from them, Mr. Lippy said.

However, none of the county officials seemed to know yesterday whether the property's listing on the National Register would interfere with their plans.

If state or federal money is used to complete the project, it must be approved by various state agencies, including the Maryland Historical Trust, said Joseph Getty, the Carroll County Historical Society director.

Mr. Dell said he would prefer to use county money to complete the project, but he said the county might be eligible for grant money because the state Department of Social Services uses the building.

"I wouldn't be surprised," said Mr. Dell of the distillery's historic status. "[But] I don't follow that too much. I just do what is necessary to make the government run the best it can, and I leave those things to the commissions."

The glass building, in which grain was dried as part of the whiskey distillation process, has been cataloged separately in the state inventory of historic properties, Mr. Getty said.

"My understanding is that it is the only building on this side of the Mississippi or on the East Coast like it," Mr. Dell said.

"I'm not really impressed with it. But it is unique in design, so that will probably stay for a while."

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