The Sykesville Town Council approved a lease of the "Gatehouse" last night, an action that will allow the town to apply immediately for grant money to renovate the 100-year-old building and make it accessible to the handicapped.
The $1-a-year lease with the state reflects town-specified modifications and allows Sykesville to terminate at any time. The town attorney gave his approval to the document.
James L. Schumacher, town manager, is to start work immediately on a $40,000 federal grant application, which has a Dec. 31 deadline.
He estimated that the process will take two hours a day from his other duties.
"That is two hours a day for the duration of the [two-year] project," he said.
"The town would have to be involved all along and administer restorations to federal standards."
The Sykesville Historic Commission hopes to turn into a museum and meeting place the state-owned gatehouse of the Springfield Hospital Center on Route 32 at the north end of town.
Councilman Jonathan Herman called the lease a "no-lose" proposition, because the town has the option of terminating at any time.
"If we can't maintain it, we don't have to move ahead," he said.
If the state opts to terminate, it must pay Sykesville the amortized costs of any renovations.
With the signing, the town becomes responsible for maintenance and upkeep, and is to provide liability and fire insurance.
"We don't have to move ahead, if we find we are failing," said Rebecca Herman, chairwoman of the Historic Commission. "If it runs into the ground and we get sick of it, all we do is give it back to the state."
The commission has completed much of the preliminary work required for the grant application. Members estimate renovation costs at about $50,500.
"We have a head start with a completed history and specifications," said Ms. Herman, who gave the council copies of the commission's proposal for the site.
Ms. Herman also introduced Bob McLeod, who is to serve as Gatehouse committee chairman and liaison to the council.