After 14 months of discussion and another public hearing last night on relocation of the cramped Hampstead Post Office, more than two dozen officials and residents agreed that it is time to act.
Hearing yet another plan to use the downtown site of the old Hampstead Elementary School for a new post office, town officials promised U.S. Postal Service officials to provide letters from the town, school officials and the Board of County Commissioners to show their commitment to declaring the school building surplus property, enabling it to be sold to Postal Service.
John Turpin, Postal Service spokesman, said postal officials will hold off for 60 days on selecting one of two other potential sites.
The plan presented by Christian E. Cavey, president of the Hampstead Business Association, recommended demolishing all but the facade of the 1917 school building, preserving its historical and sentimental significance for the many town residents who attended classes there.
An alternative to that plan, less favored by the Town Council, is to demolish the building.
Postal Service officials want to move from the cramped, 3,600-square-foot Houck Avenue post office in the growing town of 4,200 residents.
Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and the Town Council have lobbied to keep Hampstead's post office downtown since December, when postal officials began to solicit suggestions from the public on the relocation of the post office.
Town officials will have to accept whatever postal authorities decide.
Ideally, Cavey said, the Board of Education would vacate the school building on Main Street and deed it to the Board of County Commissioners. The commissioners would give or sell it to the town, paving the way for demolition of the building and the sale of the site to the Postal Service to build a 14,600-square-foot facility, considered sufficient for years to come.
That possibility has a possible problem, Kathleen Sanner, director of school support services, said yesterday.
The school board can't give the property or building to anyone, Sanner said.
Carroll's school officials would have to declare the old school building surplus, and state school officials would have to approve that action, allowing the deed to revert to the county commissioners.
Sanner said the building is in "terrible" condition and that there is little reason to doubt that state school officials would approve its designation as surplus.
Sanner said the building has not been used as a school since Spring Garden Elementary opened in 1992.
The back portion of the old school has been used for storage and to house the school system's operations department, she said. For a time, the building has housed a resource center and a computer repair center.
"We will likely declare it as surplus as soon as we move out of the building in August," Sanner said.