A turn-of-the-century red-brick building that was a former seat of Hampstead's government is likely to fill a municipal role again as the Carroll County town's new police station.
The Town Council is scheduled to vote today on a contract to buy the building and an adjoining frame house on South Main Street at Shiloh Avenue for $155,000.
Moving the police station to Main Street from its site adjoining Town Hall on South Carroll Street would make it more visible and accessible, said Police Chief Ken Meekins. Carroll Street runs parallel to Main Street, and Town Hall is set back from the downtown business district.
The new quarters would relieve crowding in the current police station, a 600-square-foot addition where six officers compete for desk space and no secure area exists for fingerprinting and processing prisoners before transporting them to the Carroll County Detention Center in Westminster.
The Main Street building "would give us considerable growing room, well into the next millennium," Meekins said.
Hampstead's rapid growth in the past decade has created a strain on public services, including police, Meekins said in a 1996 interview with The Sun. He has been seeking larger quarters for the department since he became chief in May 1996.
Meekins noted that many newcomers to town are from urban areas, where they were accustomed to quickly reaching police by phone. In Hampstead, callers sometimes will get an answering machine.
The town plans to increase the police force to 10 officers in the next several years to provide 24-hour-a-day service, said Neil Ridgely, town manager.
In the Carroll Street building, police are running out of space to store evidence, Meekins said. If the proposed purchase does not go through, police will have to rent storage space, he said.
Town officials plan to renovate the historic building, which is known as the old Hampstead Bank because of its original NTC function. It was built about 1910 and contains interesting architectural features such as a tin ceiling in the foyer, Meekins said.
He said the town would try to retain those features. Plans call for the adjacent frame house to be demolished for a parking lot.
Ridgely said the town would use revenue from the recently adopted development impact fees to help finance the purchase.
The late W. Leslie Wheeler, a former mayor, bought the bank building in 1952 when he became involved in town government, said Janice Wheeler, his daughter-in-law. It was used as the town hall and police station during the 1960s and possibly the early 1970s. After the town government moved, the Wheeler family leased the building to an antiques store owner.
In 1980, Roy's Never Stop Clock Shop replaced King's Antiques as a tenant. The shop relocated last month after Wheeler's heirs placed the building and adjoining house on the market as part of his estate settlement.
Steve Ashe, the clock shop's owner, said that for many years after the town hall and police station moved, "people were still stopping in trying to pay their parking tickets."
It took Ashe nearly a month to move his collection of 500 clocks one block north to his new location at 1150 S. Main St.
"With clocks, you can't move them too fast," he said. "You have to move them properly."
For Ashe, it was a move from one historic building to another. The building his shop now occupies was used as a freight office when wagons brought freight along the pike that led from Baltimore to Hanover, Pa.
Pub Date: 4/14/98