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Aberdeen gives final approval to sale of former Moose Lodge for $50,000

Terrell Boothe, right, is sworn in by Mayor Patrick McGrady as a new member of the Aberdeen Economic Development Commission at Monday's city council meeting.
Terrell Boothe, right, is sworn in by Mayor Patrick McGrady as a new member of the Aberdeen Economic Development Commission at Monday's city council meeting.(Erika Butler / Baltimore Sun)

Despite concerns from residents, the Aberdeen City Council has approved the sale of the former Moose Lodge property to city businessman and developer Art Helton for $50,000.

Helton intends to rehab the building at 102 N. Rogers St. and lease it to Renate and Richard Baruschka, the owners of Prost German restaurant, who had a restaurant in Aberdeen for three years but moved to Port Deposit in 2011.

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Before the council voted Monday night, Marjorie Warfield, of the 500 block of Maxa Road, asked why the council would sell something for one-tenth of the taxpayers dollars that have already been invested in the property. The property was purchased for $435,000 in 2014.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Warfield said. “Why are taxpayers being burdened with the difference between what you’re selling it for versus what you bought it for?”

As taxpaying citizens, she said, they entrust the council members to manage their dollars.

Mayor Patrick McGrady told Warfield the Moose Lodge was purchased “with the hopes and dreams to make a museum out of the facility with no plan in place.”

As the Aberdeen City Council was criticized Monday for agreeing to sell the former Moose Lodge for hundreds of thousands less than the city paid for it and rejecting other, higher offers, it introduced a contract of sale for the property.

When the previous city council bought it, before most of the current council members were elected, the property was appraised for $400,000. Since buying the property, the building has fallen into further disrepair and the city spent $50,000 to make improvements.

“What’s left is a shell,” McGrady said.

After the vote, Warfield asked why people were working on the building when it hasn’t been sold yet.

McGrady said the building was falling apart, the roof was bad and the floor was covered with puddles. The new owner wanted “to get on top of it to fix the roof,” which the city allowed.

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The city had one offer of about $200,000 to create a mosque or a church, which wasn’t compliant with the city’s zoning, $130,000 for a banquet hall and Helton’s offer to repurpose the site into a restaurant, McGrady said.

“The reason I thought Prost was better was that it was a better use for the facility,” the mayor said.

Councilman Melvin Taylor said he had wanted to sell the property to Terrell Boothe, who proposed the banquet hall, but that didn’t work out.

At Monday’s meeting, Boothe was appointed and sworn in to the city’s Economic Development Commission.

The City of Aberdeen will proceed with drawing up a contract and advertising the former Aberdeen High School as surplus property after city leaders accepted a purchase offer of $455,000, with plans to build apartments and an adult day care center.

“You had one person behind you. That’s when I was under the impression we were looking for the highest bid,” Taylor said to Boothe. “I’m glad you were able to put that behind you.”

East Bel Air Avenue

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A small section of East Bel Air Avenue will be repaved this spring under a contract the council voted unanimously to award to ECM Corporation.

The lowest bid, for $119,600 from ECM Corporation, was about $32,500 more than funding the city had obtained for the project through a Harford County Community Development Block Grant for $87,131, Public Works Director Kyle Torster told the council.

Torster said the city’s current budget could offset the additional $32,500 and if council members approved the contract Monday, he would ask them to approve a budget amendment at the next meeting to show where the money will come from.

The project consists of street resurfacing, removing and replacing curbs, gutters and sidewalks and repairing drains as well as replacing 4,600 square feet of concrete sidewalk, 100 linear feet of concrete curb and gutter, six storm drain inlets, three bicycle safe inlet grates, among other items, Torster said.

He expects the work to be done in April or May.

Holiday awards

The Aberdeen Heritage Trust presented its holiday decorating contest winners.

In the traditional decoration category, which includes use of window candles, garland and wreaths with ribbons, Walter Piper at 402 Ford St. won first place, $200; Michelle Finnerty, 271 Paradise Road, second place, $100; and Janet Piper, 9 Market St., third place, $50.

In the modern category, which includes lights and animated and/or inflated characters, Pam Overly and Mike Wirsing, 928 Avon Drive, won first place, $200; William Loerop, 351 Mount Royal Ave., second, $100; and Todd Piper, 77 Greene Ave., third, $50.

“Thanks for all who participated and judged,” McGrady said. “I’m very excited for the future of the Heritage Trust in 2018 and hope to nominate some new members.”

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