Telemecanique building to house education offices

July 21, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County has agreed to buy the former Telemecanique Inc. building on Bethel Road in Reese for $4.2 million to house Board of Education offices, Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said yesterday.

"The deal is final" with Westminster businessman Glenn S. Bair, but papers have not been signed, Mr. Brown said. The commissioners voted unanimously to buy the building, he said.

The agreement ends a search for a new school board headquarters that spanned at least eight years and three boards of commissioners. Offices now are in the south wing of the Courthouse Annex at 55 N. Court St., which Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. has said he needs for court offices.

Mr. Bair, president of Development Co. of America, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

School officials are satisfied with the location and probably will finish renovations and move to the new headquarters next summer, said Vernon Smith, director of school support services.

"This will be wonderful to consolidate all Board of Education functions at one location," he said.

Mr. Brown estimated that renovations could be finished in six months, but Mr. Smith said a year is more realistic because his staff is working on at least six other building projects.

The county will spend $1.9 million to renovate 65,000 square feet of the 154,000-square-foot former manufacturing building for office space, Mr. Brown said.

The Board of Education also plans to move its warehouse and maintenance operations to the site, but money for those renovations is not available this year, he said.

The county had considered the Telemecanique site as a location for a school headquarters for almost two years. The company, which made electrical components, closed its facility in August 1993.

The plan was delayed while environmental officials studied a well on the property that was contaminated by a solvent and while potential industrial buyers looked at the site. Square D Co., a sister company of Telemecanique, cleaned up the well.

Mr. Brown said the purchase price includes 25 acres, 15 of which probably will be developed as an industrial site.

"It's a very valuable, attractive piece of land. I imagine we'll recoup a significant portion of the purchase price" by selling it, he said. He estimated the 15 acres could be sold for $600,000 to $750,000.

"I think it's a good deal for the county," Mr. Brown said of the purchase.

Mr. Smith said the Telemecanique building was the best site for school headquarters.

"The Board of Education is satisfied with the building. The other solutions were just nonexistent," he said.

The county had considered constructing a new headquarters building, but that would have cost about $8 million, according to a recent capital budget proposal. The school board could not justify a new building when the county has a pressing need for new schools, Mr. Smith said.

Over the past several years, the commissioners had considered housing the offices in three modular buildings on Gist Road, old New Windsor Middle School or the Barrel House at Distillery Drive and Railroad Avenue in Westminster. Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan also suggested the Farmers Supply Co. property at Liberty and Green streets.

Mr. Smith said one of the first priorities would be to consolidate administrative offices at the new site. Workers are spread between the Courthouse Annex, the Winchester Building and County Office Building, he said. Between 140 and 180 school employees will work at the new headquarters.

Also in the first phase of renovations, school officials plan to move the plant operations office from the old Hampstead Elementary School on Main Street and the transportation department from leased space at the Air Business Center, he said.

In the future, officials will use 30,000 to 40,000 square feet at the new location as a warehouse for storing chairs, desks, materials, paper, custodial supplies and other items, Mr. Smith said. Those items are stored in four buildings.

"We have stuff just scattered around," Mr. Smith said.

School officials also plan these uses:

* About 10,000 square feet for a resource center to provide professional materials for teachers. The center is in the old Hampstead school.

* As much as 20,000 square feet for a teacher training center with conference and meeting rooms. The county has no training center now.

* As much as 20,000 square feet for a maintenance facility, now located on Monroe Street in Westminster.

The total cost of buying and renovating the building is expected to be $6.2 million.

Of that, $1 million already is set aside, Budget Director Steven D. Powell said.

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