Taneytown City Hall reopens its doors

Only final touches remain at 100-year-old building

April 06, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Taneytown's City Hall is open for business again after an eight-month face-lift and a complete renovation of the interior of the building that dates, in part, from 1903.

The project included construction of a new council chamber and offices, an elevator and an air-conditioning and heating system, said City Manager Gary W. Hardman. The cost probably will be a little less than the $650,000 originally estimated.

"We're on budget," Hardman said.

The renovations also will be finished in time for the city's 250th anniversary, which culminates with a weeklong celebration Aug. 21 to Aug. 28.

City Hall is two adjoining buildings at 15 and 17 E. Baltimore St. that once housed the police station, an ambulance bay and the fire station, as well as a barbershop and other businesses over the years.

"They completely gutted it," Hardman said. "It's all different -- it's nice."

The renovation includes offices on the first floor and a large meeting room with two offices upstairs, he said. There also is a small kitchen and lunch room, with appliances and a small table where once there was only an old sink.

The first coat of stain has been applied to a new custom-made council table, he said, and replicas were made of the old firehouse doors.

Outside, there will be a free- standing two-faced clock, an old-fashioned replica about 10 feet high, said Councilman James A. Wieprecht, who is head of the design committee of the Taneytown Main Street beautification project.

The clock will be installed on the sidewalk to the left of the building, he said, and the committee is looking at ways to improve the parking lot beside the building.

"The clock is here, sitting in storage," said Wieprecht, noting that its cost of about $10,000 was raised by the committee, not paid for by the city.

"Now we hope to spruce up the parking lot" with planting, fencing or other possibilities, he said. Otherwise, "We're going to have this beautiful building -- and a dingy and bare-looking parking area next to it."

Although the city's staff of seven has moved into the building, the first official council meeting won't be held there until next month at least, Hardman said.

During construction, the city offices and council meetings were relocated to the new Police Department building at 120 E. Baltimore St.

The work took about three months longer than expected, and water in an elevator shaft remains a problem. That will require a sump pump, Hardman said.

The building also required outside waterproofing, he said. An old ice cream company sign painted on the side of the building sustained damage after water seeped behind the sealant on the painted brick, he said.

Despite the problems, which might be expected with an old building, he said, "It's great. I think the building has turned out very nice. We're pleased with it."

Early last week, as the staff was settling in, there was some trouble getting the telephones working, said Linda M. Hess, the city clerk-treasurer.

"There's a lot of confusion and chaos," she said, but "things are starting to look up."

Wieprecht agreed, saying the city should take the lead in improving its public buildings.

"I think with the building spruced up and a decent sidewalk and a nice parking lot, it's going to be a real plus for downtown."

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