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Neighbors hope to save village 'heart'

Eastern Shore community life changed after fire at store, post office

February 15, 2011|By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

Residents now have to pick up their mail about five miles away in Worton, and the nearest convenience store is three miles away, Bowie said.

Gerald McKiernan, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said no decision has been made about reopening a post office in Still Pond.

Still Pond resident Mary Fielding said a man to whom she rents a house has had difficulty getting work as a handyman and day laborer since the fire. The market was always the place he would go to find out who needed a hand, or where people would find him or leave a message for him when they needed help, she said.

Resident Jim Herron said in an e-mail that, "I got to thinking of all the people I haven't seen since the fire. There were always those people who your only contact was when you saw them at the store."

Bowie said about 15 neighbors are trying to find a way to save the store. They're working with a lawyer to incorporate as a nonprofit organization that could buy the building, and are offering free labor to any prospective buyer.

"There's been so many people in the community that do not want to see the store go because of the historical" value, Ziolkowski said. Kent County has a program that allows owners of historically significant property to apply to have their buildings protected from demolition as landmarks, but Ziolkowski said she wouldn't want to do that, "not with me having the place for sale."

There's been no formal estimate of what it would cost to repair the damage and bring the market up to code, but Price said a friend of his who knows something about building renovations said it would be "major, major, major money."

No one's come up with money so far, although the real estate agent handling the sale, Dave Leager, said he's had five or six inquiries since the place was listed on Feb. 2 — one from a fellow who wanted to tear the building down and start over. Leager figures that would be much less costly than renovating it.

As the building is in a National Historic District, the new owner would probably be eligible for 20 percent federal income tax credits on the renovation cost, and could also compete for an additional 20 to 25 percent state income tax credit, said Collin Ingraham, of the Maryland Historical Trust. That agency administers federal historical preservation programs run by the National Park Service.

"All of us have found a wonderful home and environment here," said Deitz, who moved to Still Pond from the Washington suburbs. "Someone could take that store and make a wonderful life out of it."

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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