City Council clears way for health center project


In a reversal of an earlier vote, Taneytown City Council gave its endorsement Wednesday to a proposed community health center intended to provide a variety of services to low-income residents.

The council rejected the proposal in May because some members feared that abortion counseling would be included among family planning services to be provided.

To save the project, county officials agreed not to offer family planning services to clients there.

"They are satisfied that there will not be family planning services in the building," said Lynda Gainor, deputy director of Human Services Programs Inc., a nonprofit agency that plans to offer services at the new center.

"We're encouraged and very pleased, and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the City Council."

a work session Wednesday, Taneytown City Council voted 3-1 to approve the state grant.

Councilmen John M. Contestabile, Brian Etzler and James McCarron voted in favor of the grant. Mr. McCarron had voted against approval at the May meeting.

tTC Councilman Thomas J. DeNike voted against the proposal for the second time.

Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr., who originally voted against the measure, was absent.

With the council's approval, county officials now are able to apply for a $100,000 state grant to renovate a vacant building on Main Street that has been identified as a site for the health center.

The Health Department, the Department of Social Services and other agencies plan to offer services that include counseling, parental skills classes and immunization clinics. Clients also will be able to apply for emergency rental assistance, welfare and child support.

County officials said they wanted to open the center in Taneytown because the lack of public transportation makes it difficult for northwestern Carroll residents to travel to Westminster for health and social services.

"I'm pleased we were able to bring it home and get a county facility," Mr. Contestabile said. "I think there's a need for county services in the Taneytown area.

"There's clearly been some miscommunication between the council and the county, and that's unfortunate."

County officials have said they never intended to provide family planning services in their original proposal for the health center. But they said the proposal included a provision for adding a family planning clinic at the center if a demand for such services existed.

"It seemed to us that family planning was misunderstood to be abortion," Ms. Gainor said.

Mr. Contestabile, elected to the City Council in May, was sworn ** in after the vote on the initial proposal. But he said he would have opposed it on the first vote.

"There's a substantial constituency in the Taneytown area that have real trouble with abortion counseling services," he said.

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