Gatehouse funds stalled by logistics


Sykesville might need a grant to get a grant to make a house a museum.

The town has been told it will receive a $5,000 grant from the Maryland Historic Trust for renovation of the state-owned Gatehouse at Springfield Hospital Center, which Sykesville officials want to turn into a municipal museum.

But the trust is requiring a property survey of the Gatehouse before it gives the town $5,000 to begin renovations of the property.

And at least one town official says the survey could cost the entire $5,000.

The two-story Gatehouse sits on a half-acre lot that is attached -- at least on paper -- to the other 560 acres that make up Springfield Hospital Center.

"The Gatehouse has never been officially separated off the Springfield property," said Councilman Garth Adams. "To fulfill the state requirement [for the grant], we would have to survey the entire Springfield site. That's hundreds of acres, and would probably cost $5,000 just to survey."

In January, town officials signed a $1-a-year lease with the state for the century-old building on Cooper Drive and promptly applied to the Maryland Historic Trust for a grant to renovate it.

The town asked for $15,000 and will receive $5,000 -- if Sykesville meets all the requirements.

"A $5,000 grant has been awarded, but logistics are holding it up," Mr. Adams said.

For nearly three years, the town has worked to make reality out of its vision of a museum in the vacant structure, which once was the entry to the hospital. The Gatehouse comes with antiquated plumbing, faulty wiring -- and hours of improvement.

If the state terminates the lease, it would have to repay the town for renovation costs.

Mr. Adams said he hopes to get a trust officer to make the trip from Crownsville to Sykesville to look at what the state is asking.

"If they look at where the Gatehouse is situated, they might have a better understanding of what they are asking us to do," he said.

Springfield sprawls across miles of land along Route 32, east of the town. The Gatehouse, the only building on the town side of the highway, was separated from the hospital's other 40 structures when the highway opened nearly 40 years ago.

Matthew H. Candland, town manager, said the trust has been cooperative with town officials from the outset. The trust dropped its title search requirement for the property and Mr. Candland said he hopes the survey requirement also will be dropped. "Maybe they would accept a metes and bounds description of the area," he said. "Our attorney is working with them. I know we will work out the details."

The Maryland Historic Trust routinely deals with towns that own properties, Mr. Candland said, but Sykesville is leasing the Gatehouse. Its landlord is the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, a different department -- but an agency of the state that operates the trust.

The trust typically requires surveys from its grant applicants if easements are necessary. The Gatehouse is on state property and completely surrounded by it, so an easement might be necessary.

Mr. Adams worries that time will run out on the grant, which expires June 1, 1996. He said 10 months may not be enough time to navigate through state bureaucracy.

If the town gets the grant, it would use the money to replace plumbing in the building.

"The old galvanized pipes are leaking everywhere," Mr. Adams said.

Any remaining money could help improve the electric system or replace the front porch.

Mr. Adams said several people have volunteered to help with renovations, which he would like to start before another winter causes further damage to the building.

"In the future, the building eventually will house a library and museum for town artifacts," he said. "We would like to have area school children tour the building."

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