Carroll officials to dedicate today a renovated County Office Building

July 28, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF

After two years working amid the din of earthmovers, hammers and saws, employees of the Carroll County Office Building will be getting accustomed today to a new sound: peace and quiet.

Today marks the completion of the $4.2 million enlargement and renovation of the County Office Building in Westminster, an expansion that officials promise will make government services more accessible and efficient.

The County Commissioners will dedicate the building at noon today in the lobby at 225 N. Center St. An open house will follow.

Work crews hurried yesterday through the three-story building, brushing on the final dabs of white paint, hanging office signs and sweeping hallways.

The decorative improvements, however, are small compared to the major changes made possible by the 40,000-square-foot addition.

"We consolidated all the county offices into one building, so like tasks are on the same floor," said Tom Rio, chief of the county's Bureau of Building Construction.

On the third floor, for instance, the commissioners share a floor with the offices they visit most often: county attorney, management and budget, comptroller and information and communication services.

The second floor groups land-use departments: building construction, engineering, public works, planning and zoning, and development review.

On the first floor, the county grouped departments frequented by the public: collections office, parks and recreation, permits and inspections, and zoning.

Before the addition, many offices lacked space. Others that worked on common projects were on separate floors or buildings, causing problems for employees and the public.

"With the population of the county more than doubling since 1970, we had people in hallways and closets, jammed up with one another," said Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown.

Janet E. Gregor, a transportation planner, recalled how the Department of Planning and the Bureau of Development Review were on separate floors, and transportation planning was in a separate building. Developers would often need to go up and down stairs -- or outside -- to get an issue resolved, she said.

"That does not make for good service for citizens," she said.

County residents may also notice a change when they attend the next meeting of the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission or the next county public hearing. One of the main rooms in the addition is a large conference room with a dais, audio system and seats for 150 people.

The office building addition is the first phase of a $6.9 million renovation and expansion project approved by the commissioners in 1996. The second phase will be a 30,000-square-foot addition.

Pub Date: 7/28/98

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.