Right decision for Warfield Complex Carroll County: Sykesville annexation, government partnership best for development.

September 08, 1997

THE DECISION by the Carroll County commissioners to withdraw from bidding to acquire the state's surplus Warfield Complex is the right move -- for the county, the town of Sykesville and the future of economic development in Carroll.

This clears the way for the state to hand over the 131-acre section of Springfield Hospital Center to Sykesville, which plans to annex this adjacent plot and develop it as a corporate center, private school or housing for seniors.

Sykesville's commitment to rebuild and develop this parcel, which embraces 15 century-old buildings, includes hiring a marketing director and profit-sharing with the state on sale of the developed lots. The town is not seeking up-front development money from the state. And Mayor Jonathan Herman's experience as a renovation contractor should aid the town in developing a community-based plan.

This will be a long-term project, with a redevelopment cost of perhaps $14 million, including extensive asbestos abatement. Studies suggest it will not be profitable for a decade.

These long-term realities eventually discouraged the county from seeking the state property, for which it initially had high hopes as an economic engine for South Carroll.

Besides, the county's immediate priorities for industrial development are centered on the business parks near Westminster's airport and North Carroll High School in Hampstead.

The perceived division between county and town over the future of Warfield has delayed a state decision. Sykesville is now the sole applicant, paving the way for prompt divestment and for the town to be the leader in a cooperative arrangement with the county.

Carroll County must still participate as partner and promoter in this project, which will generate substantial benefits beyond town boundaries. The state's savings in maintenance costs oblige it also to help out.

The warning that higher municipal taxes (from town annexation) may discourage some industrial prospects is well taken. But that potential problem could be met by the usual tax credits and moratoriums negotiated with new business employers.

Sykesville must now demonstrate that it is prepared to act promptly and decisively in creating a rational, productive plan for this site.

Pub Date: 9/08/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.