Sykesville gets Carroll and state help for redevelopment of hospital buildings

April 11, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville's efforts to renovate aging hospital buildings at the Warfield Complex into a business and academic center received a $300,000 boost from the Carroll County commissioners yesterday.

The commissioners unanimously approved a $300,000 grant and made Carroll a partner with the town and state in the restoration of the Warfield Complex. The state recently budgeted $100,000 for the effort, bringing Maryland's contribution to nearly $400,000.

"The county has given us the spark to start the fire," said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "You don't do a $20 million project without upfront costs."

The town of 4,200 annexed the 96-acre property along Route 32 two years ago and plans to restore the 14 buildings and lease them, sharing the profits with its partners.

Warfield could be a boon to Carroll's economic development. It promises as many as 1,200 jobs and several construction projects, including an 80-room hotel.

The county will not require the town to repay the grant. The money will cover costs of engineering and architectural studies and legal fees involved in the acquisition of Warfield, once part of state-owned Springfield Hospital Center.

The town can cut its initial infrastructure costs -- for roads, gas lines and water and sewer -- by working alongside the state, which has begun designing its Police Training Center in Warfield's two largest buildings.

"The state will dig out the old and put in new, and we will supply the difference in material costs," said Herman. "We are actually piggybacking on something that is already on the ground. They are laying down the infrastructure. All we have to do is tell them what we need."

The state expects to start construction of the police center next year and open it in fall 2003. With the state building an intersection on Route 32, the timing is ideal for the town to begin work on Warfield. But it must determine the scope of that work.

"We have to have funds to undertake the studies that will give the state the information it needs to help with our project," Herman said. "We have to study Warfield's existing infrastructure and see what needs we will have."

Matthew H. Candland, town manager, said it is critical for the town's engineering studies to be done at the same time as the state's.

"The worst thing for us would be for the state to install infrastructure and we find out later that we gave inadequate information," Candland said. "The worst thing would be to jury-rig this and not have it be the gem it could be."

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