Time to fix clock tower

Council expected to approve $42,000 for renovations

`A symbol of the city'

Tonight's agenda includes plans for pedestrian mall


September 24, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Soaring 92 feet above Main Street, the clock tower atop Westminster Fire Hall has come to be more than just a perch for a Seth-Thomas timepiece and home to a bell that once summoned volunteer firefighters to duty.

"It's been a symbol of the city of Westminster for a long time," said Suzanne P. Albert, a Westminster City Council member who launched a successful campaign to save the firehouse's bell when the Fire Department moved to its new building on John Street in 1997.

But since its construction in 1896, the tower, with its distinctive octagonal curved roof, has become weathered and worn. The windows and woodwork are cracked and peeling. The lighting is old and outdated.

Tonight, the Common Council is expected to approve spending $42,000 to give the structure new life by awarding a contract to an Ohio steeplejack company to renovate the clock tower.

In July, the council delayed spending $25,000 to renovate the clock tower because the bid it received for the project was higher than expected.

Now the council is expected to approve plans to shift unused funds from other projects to cover the additional cost of the renovations, said Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning and public works. Work on the project will begin before the end of the year.

Also today, the council plans to award a $28,000 contract to Baltimore engineering company Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani LLP for design plans for the downtown Locust Lane pedestrian area.

Located between Davids Jewelers and the Optical Solution, Locust Lane was created in the 1970s as a shopping area and pedestrian walkway from Longwell Avenue parking lots to East Main Street.

This month, the city applied for $413,000 from the state's Community Parks and Playgrounds Program to make the pedestrian mall safer, more aesthetically pleasing and more accessible to the disabled. In July, Westminster applied for $500,000 from Maryland's Community Legacy Program for the same purpose.

No word has been received on whether the city will receive money from either source.

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