Board of Estimates OKs demolition of Main Street jail and environmental open contract

The old Main Street jailhouse, which once served as the primary jail for the county but has been empty since the early 1970s, will be torn down soon.

At its meeting in Bel Air Thursday morning, the Harford County Board of Estimates awarded a $108,501.96 contract for the work to Mark J. Slowinski, owner of Griz based in Phoenix. The county will piggyback on a Baltimore County contract.

The demolition will include the removal of the old jail and additions behind the sheriff's office. The contract includes labor, removal of the elevator, plumbing, debris and any hazardous waste material, including asbestos.

"There are a lot of pigeons in there; there's a good inch of pigeon fecal matter," County Project Manager Edward P. Maley said. "There is also lead paint that is peeling and will have to be remediated."

Maley said Slowinski quoted the county a "not to exceed estimate." He said the contract contains a high estimate for all areas of the demolition and the total cost may be less than the contracted figure.

Maley said he anticipates the jail demolition to start sometime this fall.

While the jail was built in 1857, it is not listed as a historic landmark by the Historic Preservation Commission.

"Only properties designated as historic are subject to a hearing in front of the Historic Preservation Commission," Maley said. "If it were, they would have to grant permission before any changes were made to the building like adding new siding or demolition."

The three-story jail was built after the Maryland General Assembly passed an act authorizing the rebuilding of the jail in Harford County because of the increasing number of escapes and unsanitary conditions.

In 1973, the county spent $1.3 million to build a new detention center on Rock Spring Road to replace the old jail.

Maley said he believes the results from the jail demolition will mirror the tear down of the former BB&T Bank on Main Street in 2012.

The board also voted to approve updates to a one-year $1 million open end contract with 10 companies to perform environmental design services for the Department of Public Works.

The update approved for a joint venture contract between Century Engineering Inc. and Johnson Mirmiran & Thompson Inc.

Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan was not at Thursday's meeting.

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