TANEYTOWN - Tensions and voices rose at Wednesday's Taneytown City Council meeting regarding the red brick building on East Baltimore Street.
As the meeting neared an end, Bob Miller, former city Chamber of Commerce president, walked to the podium with a question: What's the time frame for removing the artifacts from 24 E. Baltimore St., the building which previously housed the Taneytown History Museum, the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor's Center? The history museum committee members need more time, he said.
It's a location in the city that's been a recent point of contention, as local disability rights activist Marilynn Phillips alleged in September that the building was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city owns the building, and the Chamber of Commerce was leasing it on behalf of all three entities.
After the allegations were made, the three entities left the location, and the lease is set to end Nov. 30.
Cynthia Lamirande - Chamber of Commerce president and History Museum Committee member - said the Taneytown History Museum would like to extend the lease, as artifacts are still in the building.
Lamirande said at the meeting that when the issue was first brought up, City Manager Henry Heine Jr. told her it was "no problem."
"My conversations have been very clear and concise," Heine countered. "I told you there was no problem with us extending the lease with the chamber. There was no problem, and there still is no problem."
However, here lies the issue, Heine said. The Chamber of Commerce's name is on the lease, but the chamber wants the Taneytown History Museum Committee's name to be on the extension.
"The real question, and that's the attorney's question as well - is do they have the authority to enter a contract," Heine said in an interview.
The Taneytown History Museum is not its own nonprofit, so the museum's parent nonprofit organization, the Community Foundation of Carroll County might have to have its name on the lease, Lamirande said.
This caused confusion at the meeting. It boils down to this, city attorney Jay Gullo Jr. said.
"We're the landlord. You're the tenant," he said. "You want to leave as a tenant. I'm not sure where the tenant gets to decide who's going to take over the tenancy."
A pre-scheduled private meeting between Gullo, Mayor James McCarron Jr., Heine and museum members is occurring this morning. The lease ends Nov. 30, so they'll need to come to an agreement so the council can vote on the extension at its Tuesday meeting. If not, a special session later this month will have to be called.