Space: Harford's new frontier

August 09, 2011|By EDITORIAL FROM THE AEGIS

If the Harford County Council ends up not moving back into the Bel Air office building commonly known as the Black Box, it could end up being a good thing that saves the county government some money.

It might also free some county-owned office space and clear the way for moving some county staff out of leased space.

Asked last week about moving back into the Black Box, which was recently declared structurally sound, County Council President Billy Boniface said: "I think in the long run it will work better if we just stay where we are." The county council offices were relocated to 18 Office St. in Bel Air, one of the oldest buildings the county government owns.

County Councilman Chad Shrodes last week raised the possibility of relocating some of the county staff now in leased space into the Black Box, an idea that frankly should have been raised when the county first purchased the building at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air.

The county council had made due with chambers and offices on a floor of the addition to the Harford County Courthouse until the purchase of the Black Box. The council had to leave the former location because space was needed for court activities.

While the council wasn't the Black Box's sole occupant, it certainly managed to expand to fill a substantial amount of the space allocated. And too much of it was used for storage, which may have caused some of the initial concerns about the Black Box's structural soundness.

Since the building was evacuated some months back, the county government's functions have not suffered. Similarly, there has been no real change in the council's legislative oversight of the executive branch.

Given all this, perhaps it's time for a thorough review of county-owned office buildings to determine if office space is being used as efficiently as possible. This could be vital over the next several years as a push to build a major new county government office building remains on the horizon.

Possibly the day will come when a new office building is sorely needed, but it may well be the county could just scale back its office space needs and make due with what it has.

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