Old Carroll jail lands new tenant

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to allow the Sheriff's Office to move some of its administrative offices into the old jail building on North Court Street in Westminster.

Commissioner Robin Frazier abstained from the vote after missing parts of the discussion.

Sheriff Ken Tregoning requested that the Sheriff's Office use the jail building, which was built in 1837, for offices in response to the Circuit Court adding an additional judge.

The addition of another judge leaves no room in the courthouse for the county's domestic violence unit, which occupies about 1,000 square feet in the Circuit Court building annex.

"It's a critical need," Tregoning said of finding space for the domestic violence unit.

Tregoning said the unit needs to be moved out of the courthouse by Dec. 1.

The old jail was most previously leased by Junction, Inc., a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Built in 1837, the old jail is on the Maryland Register of Historic Properties.

By allowing the Sheriff's Office to use the facility, the county is passing on leasing the building for up to $250,000 a year.

County Director of Public Works Tom Rio said the site had the potential to be a highly marketable building because of its proximity to the circuit and district courthouses.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild questioned if it would be possible for the county to lease a portion of the building, while allowing the Sheriff's Office to occupy the rest. But Tregoning recommended against mixing law enforcement operations with a private sector business.

"We can make good use of the entire building," Tregonning said.

Commissioners also questioned if it would be possible to lease the building and use portions of that revenue to pay for another location of the domestic violence unit, but Tregoning said the unit needs to be in close proximity to the courthouse.

Tregoning said he expects about 14 Sheriff's Office employees, including himself, to be relocated in the old jail building.

According to Rio, there should be minimal costs to modify the building to suit the Sheriff's needs.

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