Members of Aberdeen's Moose Lodge 1450, on Rogers Street, are looking to move, and the city is among those considering buying their property.
While city officials discuss that potential acquisition, they have also decided to accept the gift of another property that has been offered by the family of a late city councilman to be used for a dog park.
The city council held a closed session Monday to talk about the potential Moose lodge property purchase, but officials wouldn't provide any details. City Manager Doug Miller and Mayor Mike Bennett explained discussions are in the very preliminary stages.
The 1.16-acre property, with the lodge building that dates to about 1950, has been for sale since October, real estate agent Don Curry said. The asking price is $700,000.
Regarding the Moose Lodge, "the goal of the membership is to move location, probably out of the area," Curry said. "They feel membership is more in the Cecil County area."
Curry said he has seen some interest in the property, which is in a designated flood plain area that he considers controversial.
"We are saying it's almost two feet above the flood plain," Curry said, explaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency disagrees.
The building is zoned B2, for business, allowing it to be anything from an office to a retail establishment or restaurant, he said.
It is also within the city's transit-oriented development district, which makes it a high priority for redevelopment.
As long as the building is considered to be within the flood plain, however, "you are pretty much stuck with the existing building," Curry said.
"Certainly the building is a viable building, and being that it's a block-and-brick building, it's pretty sturdy," he said, adding it is downtown on the heavily-traveled Rogers Street.
Curry's family, which has long been in the real estate business in Aberdeen, is donating a strip of land near Route 40 to the city for the dog park.
During a work session Monday, the city council agreed to move forward with accepting the 0.75-acre plot, just south of the ramp connecting South Rogers Street with Route 40.
Curry said his parents had owned the property since 1990, when they bought the Century 21 building at 200 North Philadelphia Boulevard and thought they might need more land for parking.
The need for the parking did not materialize, and "the land really is just a maintenance headache," Curry said.
The Currys sold the building in November 2013 and overheard City Manager Doug Miller mention the need for a city dog park.
Curry said his family decided to donate the land, if the city was willing to memorialize his father, the late Dewayne Curry.
Dewayne Curry was a city councilman and very interested in restoring properties around Aberdeen, Don Curry said of his father.
"One of the things we always wanted to create was a memorial to my father," Don Curry explained.
Maryland Municipal League
Council members said a number of presentations at the recent Maryland Municipal League convention proved helpful.
Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young noted one session on bringing civility back to public discourse, and Bennett agreed the topic was worthwhile.
"I, too, took that class and found it extremely interesting," Bennett said.
Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said she went to a session with economic consultant Anirban Basu on the economic outlook, and "it is nice to think that our financial outlook looks great."
"I think we will continue to grow, we will continue to flourish," Landbeck said about the city.
Police pay change
The council agreed to return $250,000 to the general fund after the city got a state grant helping to pay for the purchase of three Franklin Street properties.
The council also approved a $29,000 increase to the Capital Projects fund to buy computers for police cars, a purchase Miller said had been overlooked.
A bill that would be taken up at a future council meeting would let Police Chief Henry Trabert alter work periods for his employees, allowing them to potentially work more than 80 hours, especially during an emergency.
Miller said the move complies with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Also at the work session, Miller said the city hopes to paint the Hillcrest water tower, a project it undertakes every 10 to 15 years.
He said the project is expected to be put out for bids in August or September and to be completed by Thanksgiving.