Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson has been working to dispel rumors that the city plans to sell The Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum's building downtown, although some residents, including a former mayor, remain unconvinced.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, Robertson read a chronology of his discussions with the museum's leaders and tried to explain that the city government is just trying to resolve a lease discrepancy, as the museum's building at 18 North Howard Street has been expired for about two years.
The Aberdeen Room shares the space with the city's Chamber of Commerce.
Robertson said he sent letters on Aug. 9 explaining that the lease is expired, and then he and Planning and Community Development Director Phyllis Grover met with museum leaders to explain that they were not being evicted but the city was reviewing its options in light of the lease situation.
A "considerable amount of misinformation" seems to be circulating about plans for the museum, he said, noting he later spoke with longtime museum leader Charlotte Cronin and reassured her the building is not about to be sold.
He said the city attorney is preparing a new lease that includes both organizations and to express continued support for both The Aberdeen Room and the Chamber.
Mayor Patrick McGrady was equally adamant, telling museum treasurer Jon Livezey that he promises neither McGrady nor the city manager has had any conversations about selling the building.
Livezey was among about eight people who came to the council meeting to discuss the Aberdeen Room's future.
Livezey argued the lease is only a memorandum of understanding, as it is a nominal $1 annual fee that he pays every year.
Molly Cronin-Kelly, meanwhile, said she was the one to spread information on Facebook that the city may be selling the building, and she said she disagrees with Robertson about "what went on during the meeting" with Grover and the city manager.
"A lot of the rumors weren't rumors," she said.
Ruth Elliott, a former city councilwoman and mayor, said she had trouble reaching elected officials to find out what was happening. When she did ask them whether there were plans to sell the building, she was told "not immediate," Elliott, who finished behind McGrady in last year's mayoral election, said.
McGrady used the opportunity Monday to ask the rest of the council to work with him to avoid similar confusion from arising again.
"It's important that we get in front of rumors, not try to propagate them," the mayor said.
"It is our responsibility to make sure all of our leases are in good standing order," the mayor added later. "We are tasked with administering the government."
Cronin and Richard Herbig, representing the Historical Society of Harford County, testified about the impending transfer of the former B&O Railroad Station building to the Aberdeen Room to manage. Cronin also took the chance to tell the council about her long history with the museum.
She said the response she got when helping to create the museum was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
"The relationship of the city and the Aberdeen Room has always been very rewarding and we pray that relationship always remains," Cronin said, as those in the audience applauded.