Aberdeen mayor promises continued city help with restoration of historic B&O station

Restoration of Aberdeen B&O station could take about two years

Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady pledged this week that the city would continue to support the ongoing community project to restore the historic B&O Railroad station off West Bel Air Avenue.

"The City of Aberdeen wants to see it done as much as you do," McGrady told Bob Tarring, who is the head of an ad hoc citizen committee formed to oversee the restoration, as Tarring and his associates gave the mayor and City Council an update Monday.

Tarring, along with Rick Herbig, of the Historical Society of Harford County Board of Trustees, and Jon Livezey, treasurer for the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum, provided the update during Monday's city council meeting.

Tarring thanked city leaders for their support so far, and McGrady told him the city is just as eager as members of the community to see the station restored to its 1885 glory.

"Please don't hesitate to call on any of the council or me or any of our staff, if we can bridge any gaps," McGrady said.

Tarring said to the mayor, "trust me, I will do that," and noted it could take about two years to complete the restoration.

"We need all the help we can get," he continued.

Tarring said those working on the restoration would need guidance in complying with city ordinances.

"We're going to get it done, and anything I could get help with I would love," Tarring said.

The Historical Society took over ownership of the station in late 2014, the result of an agreement between the Historical Society, the city and CSX, which operates the rail line adjacent to the station.

The station, which was previously owned by CSX, was moved about 50 feet from the rail line in December 2014. It has since been placed on a foundation as Historical Society leaders oversee the preparation of the site, with tasks such as ensuring the stability of the soil and that the ground drains properly.

"This is the first opportunity for the Historical Society and the Aberdeen Room to brief you on the progress of the station," Herbig told city leaders Monday.

Once the Historical Society's tasks are complete, the station will be transferred to the nonprofit Aberdeen Room, and Tarring's committee, a subsidiary of the Aberdeen Room, will take over restoration and fundraising, Herbig said.

The exterior of the Victorian-style station, designed by famed architect Frank Furness, the designer of most stations along the B&O Railroad line, will be restored, and the interior will be leased to a tenant who can design the space to fit that tenant's needs.

"That can be done any which way," said Livezey, who will also be the treasurer for the ad hoc committee. "It does not have to turn into a railroad station again."

Herbig told the mayor and council members that "we're open to suggestions from the staff and any council member as to how that station should ultimately be adapted for use consistent with your zoning ordinance."

State Sen. Wayne Norman, a Republican who represents central and eastern Harford and western Cecil County, introduced a bond bill during this legislative session in Annapolis to obtain $50,000 for the Aberdeen Room to support the restoration project.

Herbig attended a hearing on Senate Bill 731 Saturday before the Senate Budget and Taxation committee.

He told Aberdeen leaders there had not been any movement on the bill as of Monday, and they would find out later in the session, which ends in April, whether state funds are available for multiple bond bills filed by legislators seeking money for community projects in their districts.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel, as they say," Herbig said.

Livezey noted the station could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He recalled that a professor who visited Aberdeen from Williams College in Massachusetts told him and his colleagues that they "have a national treasure here."

"It's considered to be a very historic building, and we hope to put it to good use," he said.

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