New Station for Westminster Police CARROLL COUNTY

August 27, 1993

For 13 years, the Westminster city police have put up with the thumps and bumps and shouts of basketball games played in the gymnasium over their basement quarters in the Longwell Municipal Center, the old National Guard Armory.

That should come to an end soon with completion of a new two-story headquarters on Locust Street, a former auto parts store.

The $1 million project will provide overdue relief to the 30 police department employees, who have grimly endured the damp, cramped and inadequate facilities while city fathers leisurely debated the matter over the years.

Some matters of official contention were significant: whether to buy the vacant building near City Hall or build elsewhere, whether to install an elevator to ease handicapped access even though not legally required to do so.

Other concerns tediously centered on such minutiae as the color and cost of the brick facade. Arctic White brick it will be instead of classic red, at an extra cost to taxpayers of $150 -- within a $750,000 renovation contract.

The idea is to create a campus-like appearance along with City Hall, or as Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein described it, "a dramatic building, aesthetically harmonious with Emerald Hill."

The police department's move coincides with the state's sale to the city (for $100 instead of the original $190,000 demand) of the armory, which will be rehabbed, cleaned of asbestos and converted for use by municipal agencies.

The new police station appears to be a prudent economy. The city bought the property at a price lower than two independent appraisals. Renovation costs are expected to be lower than the amount budgeted (after comparing 17 bids) and construction work is on schedule.

The installation of an elevator that added $82,000 to the bill was controversial, especially when other wheelchair-access alternatives were not considered. But the foresighted inclusion of that convenience will signal an openness to all residents that should be applauded.

Observed council President Kenneth A. Yowan: "Some people might grumble for months that we put the elevator in, but if we don't do the right thing, they are going to remember it for 20 years."

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