Proposed idea could moved CCPS, sheriff's office to North Carroll building

The North Carroll High School building could house multiple different organizations in coming years.

Commissioners Doug Howard, R-District 5, and Richard Weaver, R-District 2, presented a concept Thursday that would move Carroll County Public Schools Central Office, a portion of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, Recreation and Parks and a child care business to the North Carroll High School building off Md. 482 in Hampstead.


Weaver said Thursday this was a part of the larger discussion about what to do with the multiple vacant buildings and space issues throughout the county.

"This all has to go into the big piece of the puzzle," he said.

What's beneficial, Howard said, is that the building would be intact — though it would be divided up — and it wouldn't lose the "integrity" as the school facility it was.

The sheriff's office would have approximately 12,000 square feet on the ground of the facility. It would take some remodeling, Weaver said, but it would have a lot of storage space and allow the sheriff's office to move out of its current northern location by the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library.

Currently, the sheriff's office has detectives stationed in the northern part of the county, Sheriff Jim DeWees said in an interview Thursday with the Times. But the space they're in now is "highly inadequate for their operations," he said.

This move would mean a true northern precinct, similar to what's already in the southern part of the county, DeWees said. The space would work, but what would be key is making sure the modifications were done right, he added.

"It does have to be built right," he said. "I like the concept. I'm willing to work within the concept."

The Recreation and Parks Department would have space in the ground floor, first floor and second floor. It would also allow the North Carroll Recreation Council to use the space, including the main gym and lobby; upper gym; wrestling room; all outdoor fields including the stadium and track; tennis court; auditorium; weight room; wash room; main lobby restrooms; basketball court; and the home economics room.

"I think it would be a good economic boost to the area," Weaver said of the outdoor stadium.

The Board of Education would get 70,000 square feet on the upper level A, B and C wings, plus the lower level of the C wing.

This could free up the Winchester Building, where the central office is currently located, for expansion for the sheriff's office and state's attorney's offices in Westminster, Howard said.

Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie would not comment specifically on the ideas proposed Thursday, though he said he will begin to develop feedback that will go to the Board of Education at its April meeting. Hopefully at that meeting, Guthrie added, the board will agree on feedback to send to the commissioners.

Another idea for the former school building is a child care facility, which could be leased out for about $40,000 a year.

"A lot of it is very early on discussion," Howard said of the concept.


But if they do nothing, he added, there would still be ongoing operating costs, in addition to concern that people will break in and vandalize the facility.

Weaver said this concept would be a several-year process.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said he agreed with a lot of what was discussed in the concept. More conversations are needed, he said, but it gives the commissioners a place to start.

"I think there's some real good possibility here," Wantz said.

For some, Howard said, it may be hard to envision, but a lot of the rooms in the building are very large. They just need to be "a little bit creative," he said.

It would be an "ideal spot" for a turf stadium, Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, said.

And while it wouldn't be centrally located for the Board of Education, it would keep all of those offices together, "which i think is more important," he added.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, didn't necessarily agree. They need to look at the numbers, he said, and the only way he can see it working is leasing out part of the facility, he said.

"Without that, it'll bleed us," Rothschild said.