Council fails to wrap up purchase of police station


Slower-than-expected progress in negotiations prevented the Westminster City Council from concluding its anticipated purchase of a new police station Monday.

But the council took two steps to relieve overcrowding in government offices, agreeing to move city recreation offices to Longwell Municipal Center -- without major changes to improve accessibility for the disabled -- and to renew a search for disabled-accessible rental space for the city housing and community development offices.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said negotiations have not stalled in the city's effort to buy the former Westminster Auto Parts store at 36 Locust St. for conversion to a police station. He said a point requiring clarification prevented him from being able to bring the council an agreement at its meeting.

The council authorized conversion of a women's restroom on the main floor of the Longwell Center to accommodate wheelchair users, but held off on other renovations that will meet requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and create office space to relieve overcrowding at City Hall.

Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein lobbied unsuccessfully for further delays in both the Longwell Center renovations and a project to make City Hall accessible to the disabled.

Orenstein sought a four-month deferral for a citizens commission to review the changes. The councilwoman said she didn't want to leave a legacy of "botched" buildings.

The city government has had a $40,000 study of the project in hand for a year, Councilman Kenneth M. Yowan countered. "I don't think anyone is going to accuse us of moving too fast," he said.

Orenstein said she remains opposed to a proposed addition at the side of the Longwell Center that would house a stairwell. If the city uses the top floor of the building for an after-school recreation program as planned, fire regulations would require a second exit, which the stairs would provide.

Architect Dean Camlin of Camlin/Arbaugh & Associates Inc. designed exterior stairs to preserve space inside the building.

In other action, the council:

* Met in closed session with city attorney John B. Walsh Jr. to discuss a dispute between Robert H. Lennon and David B. Weisgerber, owners of a building at 6 E. Main St., and Brady Bryson, owner of Locust Wines at 10 E. Main St. The dispute is over public access to a driveway that leads to the wine shop.

Bryson's attorney, James W. Davis, told the council in public session that Weisgerber and Lennon have blocked a public right of way.

* Deferred a request from Orenstein for a citizens commission to review environmental regulations and "the appearance of Westminster." The mayor said he will meet with the councilwoman to come up with a more concrete outline of the proposed commission's function.

* Awarded a three-year contract for city employees' uniforms to Baltimore Uniform Rental despite a last-minute effort by Brown to get a Westminster company to lower its prices to qualify for the contract.

The mayor said he had contacted Modern Ideal Laundry and Cleaners, whose original quotation was $2,500 higher than the Baltimore supplier. He said Modern Ideal agreed to reduce its price, although it remained higher than Baltimore Uniform Rental.

Councilman Stephen R. Chapin raised a fairness issue in allowing one bidder to alter its price after the bids had been submitted.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad