Parking garage crucial to growth, council told

$2.6 million sought from state for facility on Longwell Avenue

January 15, 2002|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

WESTMINSTER — The president of Westminster's economic development organization told the Common Council last night that a new downtown parking garage is not only necessary to meet the city's parking needs, but would "set the framework" for its future economic growth.

The city is proposing construction of a 2 1/2 -story, $2.5 million garage on the Longwell Avenue parking lot that would add about 200 parking spaces to the 125 already there.

The garage would be located across the street from Longwell Armory, on the corner of the lot closest to Main Street, and has been designed to not interfere with the view of Westminster's historic City Hall.

"It really is the kind of public works project that creates the framework for future economic growth," Ethan Seidel, president of Greater Westminster Development Corp. and vice president for administration and finance at Western Maryland College, said last night at a public hearing.

Last night, the council unanimously approved an ordinance to apply for financing with $2.6 million in bond money from the state Infrastructure Financing Program, part of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, to build the garage.

The extra $100,000 would cover the costs of bond counsel, insurance, printing and related expenses.

Construction on the garage could begin in the spring.

The city plans to repay the $2.6 million for the Longwell garage in part with money raised through parking fees and fines, according to Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro, chairman of the council's finance committee.

"We ought to be able to afford this bond bill over the life of its 20 years," Pecoraro said.

Westminster also plans to build a 162-space parking garage on the former Farmer's Supply site on Liberty Street, south of Main Street.

This parking deck, which is expected to get under way soon, would adjoin a four-story office, retail and residential project known as Westminster Square.

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