Vacant buildings could be converted to community center


Two vacant buildings side by side on East Baltimore Street in Taneytown could become a hub of activity for area residents if a plan to renovate the space is approved.

Representatives of city, county and state groups are working on a plan to convert the buildings to a community center, Jolene Sullivan, Carroll's director of citizen services, told the county commissioners yesterday.

Some officials plan to tour the buildings, which are across the street from City Hall, at 9 a.m. Thursday, she said.

Taneytown Bank and Trust Co. donated the buildings to the city several months ago with the understanding that they would be used for community services, Ms. Sullivan said.

Last week, the Taneytown City Council voted to give the interested groups 60 days to write a renovation plan and research grants to pay for it. City officials will review the plan.

The groups involved include the Department of Social Services, Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Health Department, Recreation and Parks Department, Youth Service Bureau and Head Start, Ms. Sullivan said.

They would like the city to lease the building to them for $1 per year, she said.

A community center would provide a convenient place for residents to participate in programs and take advantage of services such as counseling, Ms. Sullivan said.

Participating groups would not have staff members at the center full time, but probably would provide services on a "flex-time" schedule, she said.

The center also could be a place for people to pick up tourism, recreation and Chamber of Commerce information, she said.

"It really could be a good use of the facility," she said.

After Thursday's walk-through, county engineers and building inspectors will have a better idea about how much renovation needs to be done and the cost, Ms. Sullivan said.

The 2,500-square-foot, two-story space is in decent shape, she said. She estimated it might cost $15,000 to do "cosmetic" work inside because there is water damage.

The buildings also would have to be made accessible for disabled people, she said. The groups probably could find grant money to pay for that work, she said.

Taneytown Bank has agreed to donate $1,000 a year for five years toward operating expenses, she said. Carroll County Bank and Trust Co. officials also have expressed interest in helping with the project, she said.

Taneytown Caring and Sharing Ministries, an ecumenical organization, has agreed to donate $600 toward first-year expenses, Ms. Sullivan said.

"It's coming along," she said of the proposal.

The three commissioners said the idea sounded good and told Ms. Sullivan to continue to work on it.

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