Post office still possible in downtown

Postal Service OKs 30-day extension to complete plans

OK needed from state

Sparks man fills town manager post vacated by Ridgely

August 17, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Hampstead filled its vacant town manager position last night at a special meeting of the Town Council, and those in attendance learned that the proposed new post office may be located in the downtown business district after all.

After Ken Decker, 36, of Sparks was sworn in as town manager and zoning administrator, Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and Councilman Stephen A. Holland gave a brief update on the issue of building a new post office on the old Hampstead Elementary School site in the town's business district.

Postal Service officials met with Holland, business person Christian E. Cavey and the county commissioners behind closed doors on Aug. 9. The commissioners walked away with a 30-day extension to make a final bid to keep a new postal facility in the downtown area, Nevin said.

Postal officials had given the town until July 31 to secure ownership of the property and provide figures on the cost of demolishing all but the facade of the school, which the town favors keeping for historical and sentimental reasons.

"Postal officials made it very clear they did not favor any further delay, and Jack Lyburn [the county's economic development director] said his staff will get the necessary appraisals for the cost of demolishing all but the facade," he said.

A delay in declaring the school surplus by the county Board of Education, which owned the property, prevented the town from meeting the July 31 deadline.

State school officials also must declare the property as surplus before the school passes into the hands of the county commissioners, who want to negotiate directly with postal authorities, Holland said.

Hampstead officials had hoped the commissioners would sell the property to them for $1 and allow them to deal directly with postal officials.

New town manager

Decker, who begins as town manager on Aug. 30, arrives when the town is trying to revitalize its business district and move forward on building a bypass to alleviate severe traffic congestion on Route 30, the town's main street.

"Ken came into his interview with knowledge of the issues we face and he had as many questions for us as we had for him," Holland said.

Decker plans to marry soon and said he would like to move to Hampstead, although the town's code does not require him to live within the town limits.

"I grew up in a small town in Montana, smaller than Hampstead, and I am looking forward to making this my new hometown," said Decker, who will end three years as operations manager at the Business and Work Force Development Center in Severna Park on Friday.

The job provided Decker with experience in planning, budgeting, grantsmanship, and the supervision of a 20-person staff. He previously worked as a transportation planner in Spokane, Wash.

70 applied

Decker replaces Neil Ridgely, who resigned in December. Ridgely attempted to change his resignation, but Nevin and the Town Council accepted it and began a nationwide search.

Nevin said about 70 people applied for the position, which pays $40,000 to $45,000 a year, with fringe benefits that include the use of a leased station wagon.

Decker holds a master's degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University and a bachelor's in economics from Gonzaga University.

Pub Date: 8/17/99

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