Hampstead ponders options for old school Former elementary regarded as centerpiece of Main St. redevelopment

December 03, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Hampstead officials are keeping an eye on the old Hampstead Elementary School, a 69-year-old building they say is the centerpiece of the town's Main Street redevelopment effort.

It has been a dozen years since classes were held there. The school system uses the building for storage, data processing services and office space but plans to move those functions to newer buildings.

Town officials say developers have expressed interest in the building, which is in the center of the town's business district.

"If the school board decides that it's surplus inventory and that it's going to be turned back to the county, we've asked that we be involved in those conversations," said Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin.

At a meeting Monday night attended by Hampstead officials, the County Commissioners and other Carroll officials, Steven D. Powell,. the county budget director, said he has been discussing the school with town leaders for two years.

"We hope to conclude this by the summer in terms of which direction we plan to move," Powell said.

Although the school board hasn't decided on the future of the school, Hampstead officials are talking about its potential.

Nevin said three developers have toured the building in the past year. "Obviously, we're concerned, and we'd like to have input because it's a cornerstone as far as Main street redevelopment," he said.

Last year, Hampstead hired the Towson consulting firm Whitney, Bailey, Cox and Magnani to devise a blueprint for redevelopment of the town's business district. The firm identified the old elementary school as one of the key downtown structures.

"We definitely feel the elementary school is an integral part of the downtown and adds to the character of the downtown," said Deepa Srinivasan, the Hampstead project manager.

She said the redevelopment study committee is exploring uses for the building, including apartments for the elderly, retail businesses, spaces for small offices, an arts and crafts center, a flea market or a combination of uses.

Srinivasan said an architectural analysis found the building to be in good shape structurally.

"It has a lot of nice potential for a people space," she said.

The building dates from 1928. Additions were constructed in 1939, 1968 and 1972.

"The school board will retain it until additional space is provided at another location for our staff," said Lester P. Surber, supervisor of construction for the county school system.

The building houses data processing services, a resource center for teachers and some plant operations and maintenance services. Furniture and equipment are stored at the site.

Plans call for the data processing and resource centers to be moved to the new addition at the county's Winchester building, at 125 North Court St., Surber said.

The maintenance offices will be moved to a new school maintenance building at Meadowbranch Road and Route 97, which could be completed in 1999, Surber said. A new school warehouse, which doesn't have a construction date, will house the operations offices now at the old Hampstead school.

"Normally, if we no longer have a use [for the building], we transfer it to the county," Surber said.

The transfer must be approved by the state Interagency Committee for Public School Construction, he said.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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