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Renovating City Hall, making it safer, part of ‘healing process’ for Taneytown after August ‘attack’

Taneytown's CIty Office building still has plywood covering damage done when the building was intentionally rammed by a motorist in September. The city placed concrete bollards on the sidewalk in front of the building after the crash.
Taneytown's CIty Office building still has plywood covering damage done when the building was intentionally rammed by a motorist in September. The city placed concrete bollards on the sidewalk in front of the building after the crash. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

It’s been nearly six months since Taneytown’s City Hall suffered extensive damage when a man allegedly rammed his truck into it, significantly limiting its use since, and the municipality is in the process of rebuilding with the goal of making it safer.

One side of the building is still boarded up. Acting City Manager James Wieprecht said City Hall suffered a lot of damage to the second floor and that the city wants to do more than just make repairs.

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“Damage was limited to the finance office, the lobby, a bit of the City Clerk’s office. So that area is going to be all reconstructed and we’re also going to make make some safety and operational improvements to better reflect how we work today than when the building was designed 20 years ago or so," said Wieprecht. “We have more staff and operations have changed a little bit. So we’re going to take advantage of demolition already being done to put things back the way it will be operationally and what they’ve done for us.”

For example, as a security measure, concrete bollards have been added to the front of the building. Procedurally, there will be restrictions on how people will be allowed to gain access, Wieprecht said.

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On Aug. 30, a Taneytown man allegedly rammed his truck into City Hall after having his water service cut off. Rodney Wayne Davis, 55, was was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including second-degree burglary, malicious destruction of property valued at more than $1,000 and reckless endangerment.

Taneytown Mayor Bradley Wantz issued a public statement about the incident on Aug. 31, calling it “nothing less than a terroristic attack on the city" and noted that the vehicle hit City Hall at about 5:50 p.m. — after normal work hours — but had the incident occurred during office hours, “some of our beloved employees would have been in grave danger.”

Wantz said this week that safety was a key consideration for the ongoing renovation to City Hall.

“I think it’s important to be able to provide a safe place for residents to come and conduct their city business as well as for city employees to be safe in their environment," he said.

Since the incident, not all city employees have been able to work out of the building.

“Currently City Hall is only accessible to the public by appointment. The city manager works out of City Hall as well as the finance department, my office is at City Hall," said Wantz. “The front office, the ladies who work up there, are currently working out of Police Department. They had some extra space and desks that we can move them down there temporarily.”

Things will remain this way until they can “make the entire building habitable again,” according to Wantz.

The city recently put the project out to bid and “a handful” of requests for the bid package have been made, according to Wieprecht. The city included $99,000 in a budget amendment for City Hall renovations. The budget doesn’t just cover repairs and renovations but also replacing damaged or destroyed equipment, furnishings as well as the actual construction work, according to Wieprecht.

Once the bid is awarded, Wieprecht said it should be about a two-month job. It hasn’t been an easy process, he said.

“Working with an architect to try to come up with the best design and choosing an architect and all that while we’re sort of short-staffed in-house here,” said Wieprecht.

Wantz is hopeful completion of the project will provide some healing for the community.

“As long as the wood panels are up at City Hall, it’s a reminder of the incident that occurred," Wantz said. "I think as part of that, if you will, healing process, the sooner we can get that renovated and restored back to its historic nature, the better it’ll be for the city as a whole.”

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