Hampstead school declared surplus

Board's action paves way for post office on site

June 30, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A new Hampstead post office might yet wind up downtown on the site of the old elementary school, as town officials, business owners and residents prefer.

The first step in achieving that outcome occurred yesterday, when the Carroll school board declared the circa 1917 building to be surplus and transferred the Main Street property to the county commissioners.

The transfer, contingent on approval of the state superintendent of schools, could lead to the town's gaining control of the property or a commitment from the county to making the tract available for the U.S. Postal Service to consider as a viable site for a new 14,600-square-foot post office.

"This is excellent news," a vacationing Christian E. Cavey, president of the Hampstead Business Association, said yesterday during a telephone interview from Sarasota, Fla.

Under Cavey's proposal, presented at a June 8 public hearing with postal officials, the commissioners would transfer the school property to the town of Hampstead. The town could then demolish the building or preserve the facade of the school for historical and sentimental reasons.

The current 3,600-square-foot post office in Hampstead is too cramped to handle the increased mail for the growing town of 4,200, postal service officials said.

Cavey, Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and members of the Hampstead Town Council were able to persuade postal service officials to hold off on deciding upon either of two sites outside town limits until the end of next month.

While not all favored demolition of the old school, the majority of the council seemed to like Cavey's concept of preserving the facade.

The building has been used for storage and has not been used as a school for about five years, said Kathleen Sanner, director of school support services.

With the property declared surplus, Sanner said forms, deeds and documentation will be sent to the state superintendent.

"The process typically takes four to six weeks for the state superintendent to sign off on a surplus property," Sanner said.

The process generally is a "rubber-stamp approval," she said.

Nevin and council members were not available for comment yesterday.

Cavey said he has had informal discussions with two commissioners, Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier.

"Both listened and seemed receptive, but neither gave any definite indication of what they would do if the old school property was given to the county," Cavey said.

Attempts to contact Gouge and Frazier were unsuccessful.

Cavey said he believed the commissioners would be able to do whatever they want with the property once it is deeded to them.

"I suppose they could sell it for $1, or sell it for market price," he said. "They could also deal directly with the U.S. Postal Service and cut the town out of any deal."

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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