Port Deposit hoping to restore old Tome Gas House for use

The Town of Port Deposit is trying to determine possible uses for the Tome Gas House once it's restored.

At the town's monthly meeting Tuesday night, council members voted to support an easement for the gas house, the first step in ensuring the restoration moves forward.

The vote passed unanimously; all the council members were at the meeting except Councilman John Leeds.

The easement is necessary to ensure the house's restoration gains the support of the Maryland Historical Trust, Councilman Jeff Spangler said.

The gas house needs to be restored inside and outside, Councilwoman Judy Leonard said Wednesday.

The easement says that when restoration begins, it occurs in accordance with the standards of the trust. As far as what exactly needs to be done, Leonard said the council is still working on that. They have photographs of what the house used to look like.

What renovations are made depends on how the town decides it wants to use the old gas house once it's restored.

Some early ideas the town has include having displays for what the house was used for as part of the Tome School, information about the Northern Map Turtle and information about how the Naval Training Center used it.

Once that is figured out, Leonard said, the cost of the restoration can be determined.

The overall project cost will be determined by how the displays will be adapted to fit the house, as well as bringing the house up to the appropriate codes, adding HVAC, working restrooms and other amenities.

The town is working with an engineering firm to get all the specifications for the house and determine where to start, Mayor Wayne Tome said Wednesday.

The town is in the process of applying for a grant to restore the Gas House along with the Northern Map Turtle's natural habitat, which is in front of the gas house in Marina Park.

Also during the meeting, Tome announced that October is Fire Prevention Month. He reminded the council of ways to prevent fires, including cleaning a chimney before using a fireplace and refraining from burning anything green (vegetation).

Tome also mentioned that the Water Witch Fire Company's renovation is complete and that it would be holding an open house on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The town recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As part of its effort to promote awareness, the town is using a colored gel in its streetlights near the town hall as well as on Main Street to produce pink lights during October. Tome said the effort was "near and dear to my heart," as his wife is a breast cancer survivor.

The council also voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Channah Moise to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Spangler announced that a dive boat involved in searching for the remains of the 18th century American brig The Andrea Doria will be docked in Port Deposit Sunday at 2 p.m., and would be available to the public for viewing, with crew members available to answer questions about the search.

The Port Deposit VFW chapter contributed $2,000 to the organization that wants to rebuild the Andrew Doria in Port Deposit.

The Andrea Doria is known as the first American ship to receive a salute from a foreign port, and was also involved in the defense of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. It was scuttled, or deliberately destroyed, in November 1777 near Red Bank, N.J., to avoid capture by the British during the war.

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