Westminster government plans to take the roof off the Gilbert parking garage, scrounge a few additional parking spaces and widen the exit from the garage onto East Main Street.
The project will help ease a parking space shortage and traffic congestion at the adjacent Westminster library. Martha Makosky, former Carroll County Public Library director, proposed it in 1990 in meetings with the county commissioners, mayor and City Council.
The council decided in 1991 to demolish the garage roof after a consulting engineer said it was in poor condition and estimated that repairs would cost at least $30,000. The walls will be taken down to a height of 4 feet. The project may yield four to six parking spaces in addition to the 18 in the garage and the 27 on library property.
"Granted, six spaces doesn't sound like much, but when people are driving around looking for parking spaces, it can make a difference," said Scott Reinhart, Carroll County Public Library assistant director for automation, support and technical services.
The garage bears the name of Oscar D. and Ida Gilbert, who lived at 54 E. Main St. in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The garage may have been built by Taylor Motor Co., according to "The Building of Westminster in Maryland" by architectural historian Christopher J. Weeks.
Mr. Gilbert owned a hardware store in Westminster, was mayor from 1900 to 1908 and was elected clerk of the Circuit Court in 1909.
A newspaper article reporting his death in 1936 said, "In all his varied activities, whether business, church, city, county, fraternal, political, he was a willing, intelligent worker, a man who never shirked duty and could be depended upon to do his full part."
City government is scheduled to open bids on the demolition and construction Feb. 23.
Thomas B. Beyard, city public works director, said the start of work probably will be delayed until late spring or early summer -- the least disruptive time for the library and Porterfield's Photography at 54 E. Main St.
Westminster's library is so busy that no time is really good for the demolition, Mr. Reinhart said.
He said the library will remain open, but the parking area behind the building probably will be closed during demolition.
Library officials had hoped the city could create a second lane at the exit, so cars could line up for left or right turns onto Main Street.
"We're going to do what we can to widen it, but there's not going to be a turning lane," Mr. Beyard said. "Room doesn't exist between the [Westminster] fire company property and Porterfield's property."
He said the city can create one parking space in the garage by repainting lines. Other new spaces will be carved out of landscaped space between the building and Main Street.
Mr. Reinhart said demolition of the garage roof will make life easier for the library's bookmobile driver.
The roof is too low for the bookmobile, soft drink delivery trucks or trucks making deliveries to Locust Wines at 10 E. Main St.
Westminster is "trying to do everything we can as a city to make sure parking is maximized," Mr. Beyard said.