Gatehouse poll draws about 12 responses SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber


The chairman of the Sykesville Historic Preservation Commission says she is not dismayed at the paucity of replies to the Gatehouse questionnaire.

"There wasn't much to object to," said Rebecca Herman, commission chairman. "It's a win-win situation for the town."

The town is considering leasing the Gatehouse, at nearby Springfield Hospital Center, from the state for $1 a year and turning it into a town museum and meeting place. The questionnaire gave a brief history of the 100-year-old structure and asked residents whether they approve or disapprove of the lease idea.

Ms. Herman said no response means no objections to the proposal.

About a dozen replies have trickled into the Town House since the town mailed 3,000 questionnaires with its newsletter last month.

"All the responses have been positive," Councilwoman Julie Kaus said. "Many people said they were willing to help in the project."

James L. Schumacher, the town manager, said he would apply for state grants to help pay for renovating the building, which would have to be made accessible to the handicapped. The rest of the cost would come from donations.

The commission raised $30,000 to renovate the town train station three years ago, Ms. Herman noted.

Commission members see the Gatehouse as a museum for historic displays, and as a place for meetings and recreational events.

Because it faces Millard Cooper Park at the northeast corner of town, it would make an ideal visitor information center, Ms. Herman said.

Under the 90-year lease, the town or state could terminate at any time.

At the historic commission's meeting next week, Ms. Kaus said she expects members to vote in favor of the lease and take that recommendation to the Town Council.

"If we decide to sign the lease, we would start a fund-raising drive," she said.

Dennis J. Hoover, town attorney, said he was waiting for the state to return a revised lease, which includes the town's modifications.

"The state has told us there shouldn't be any impediments due to our modifications," Mr. Hoover said.

As a tenant, the town would be responsible for building maintenance and upkeep and would provide liability and fire insurance.

If the state opts to terminate the lease, it would repay Sykesville the amortized costs of any repairs, Mr. Hoover said.

"If the lease in its final form reflects our modifications, I would recommend it," he said.

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