The Harford County Council moved back into its former home on Bond Street in Bel Air Thursday.
"The Harford County Council will be returning to 212 S. Bond St., also known as the 'Black Box,' on Jan. 17, two years after being forced to leave due to structural damage," according to a council media release. "The building has since been repaired. This move comes as a welcome change for both the Council and its constituents, as the temporary office at 18 Office St. lacked accessibility to the public and proximity to other County government offices."
The structural problems with the Bond Street building were largely repaired by July 2011, and the council resumed holding its public meetings in its chambers on the first floor of the building in January 2012.
The council members offices and those of much of their staff remained in a temporary location in another county-owned building at 18 Office St., however, and for some time in the latter half of 2011, it appeared those activities would stay put.
Last May, however, soon after each of the seven council members hired personal aides for the first time in history and other staff positions were added, the council began actively considering a complete return to the Bond Street building. Some of its administrative functions had already returned by then, it was noted Tuesday.
"Improved accessibility is one of many positive benefits of the return, as 212 S. Bond St. has accommodations for residents with limited mobility and plenty of parking, both of which were unavailable at 18 Office St.," Tuesday's media release states. "In addition, the staff to the People's Counsel, hearing examiner and Zoning Board of Appeals as well as the Office of the County Auditor will be in the same location as the Council, centralizing constituents' access to services provided by the legislative branch of Harford County government."
After Thursday's move, the council will be on the second floor of 212 S. Bond St., sharing the building with the Department of Public Works Division of Highways and Water Resources on the third floor, according to the release.
The second floor of 212 S. Bond St. contains approximately 33 work spaces, including a large conference room, which can seat 14 people; a public meeting room, which can seat eight; and a multipurpose room for larger community meetings.
According to the release, the office space will also provide flexible centralized meeting space for the People's Counsel, People's Counsel Citizens Advisory Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Harford Cable Network, Budget Advisory Board and several other public committees and advisory boards that report directly to the county council.
Decades of legislative files will also be re-located from several different locations under one roof, thus securing them for future generations and improving the statutory required document retention, the release states.
"On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank Vice President Richard Slutzky, Council Administrator Pamela Meister, and Chief of Facilities Tim Myers for facilitating this move and a smooth transition from our temporary facility back into the black box," Council President Billy Boniface said in the release.