The Bloomsbury Community Center was bustling with activity on Wednesday afternoon as employees of the Baltimore County Board of Elections tested voting machines in preparation for the early voting that starts June 12.
For Catonsville resident Edward Williams, the presence of those voting machines at the center on Bloomsbury Avenue has been a source of frustration for years.
"I think it's a waste of a community center," said Williams, who lives in the Paradise community of Catonsville. "That space should be used for community activities."
Williams, who serves as president of the Baltimore Artists Guild, would prefer using the space at the center as a studio space for local artists instead of storing voting booths.
He could be getting his wish.
The Board of Elections will relocate to a county office building in Hunt Valley by February 2015, said Katie Brown, director of the board.
The Board of Elections was relocated to the Bloomsbury Center in 2004, as the county sought to save money by using facilities it owned instead of leasing space.
"It wasn't our choice to be here," Brown said. "The county just located us here."
Brown, director since 2008, said, "Although the community hasn't enjoyed us being here, we have enjoyed our stay."
Still, Brown said, she's excited to move to the new space, where the office will be on one floor. The board currently uses space on the second and third floors of the Bloomsbury center.
Maggie Schorr, a Catonsville resident who teaches a fitness boot camp class at the center, was happy to hear about the impending move.
"This is a beautiful building that was supposed to be used as a community center, that ended up being a county office building," she said. "The center should be used by residents as a community center."
"I'm so excited that they are leaving," Schorr said. "It doesn't make sense for [the Board of Elections] to be in this part of town — they should be in Towson."
However, the center site, which was once Catonsville High School, is expected to be converted into an elementary school as part of a solution to overcrowded schools Baltimore County.
The new school is expected to open August 2016.