Council approves bonds for garage; Money to help build 203 parking spaces, key to redevelopment


The Westminster Common Council voted unanimously last night to issue $780,000 in bonds to help finance a planned parking garage at the former Farmers Supply Co. site at Liberty and Green streets.

Carroll County Bank and Trust Co. is developing the property into a $6 million office and retail complex, which would include 2 1/2 stories of parking -- 203 spaces -- and three levels of office space.

The city has committed up to $1.5 million in funding for the garage.

The redevelopment of the Farmers Supply site fits into a decade-long effort to revitalize the central business district. A 1994 study identified additional parking as a significant part of the revitalization effort.

The study listed the Farmers Supply property as a key downtown building that "would be an ideal location for a quality housing development or office complex."

"It's going to be the crown jewel of downtown," Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said after last night's meeting.

The bonds, which come with a relatively low interest rate of no more than 5.3 percent, are expected to be paid off over 20 years, said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works.

Instead of floating its own bonds, the city will go through the state's Local Government Infrastructure Financing Program to obtain the loan.

The state bonds are insured and offer a lower interest rate than the city could obtain on its own, Beyard said. The program also cuts the city's administrative duties and costs.

The bank, which is relocating its operations center from Route 140 and Englar Road, is expected to need 150 of the spaces. But all 203 spaces will be offered to the public on a first-come, first-served basis at $30 per month.

The city, which will have a 99-year lease on the garage, is expected to take in between $70,000 and $80,000 per year from permits and fees. Construction is expected to be complete by the spring or summer of 2000.

"We're not really going into this to make money. Our intent is to provide parking spaces for various workers. So long as our costs are covered, that's our objective," Beyard said. "We want to encourage businesses to be in downtown Westminster. It's an economic-development initiative more than anything else."

Although the garage won't provide a large increase in parking for downtown shoppers, the city also has plans for a 170-space deck at the Longwell lot between City Hall and East Main Street.

In other business, the council:

Voted to postpone a decision on the Cranberry sewer extension project, which would bring public sewer service to 20 homes near Old Manchester Court. The city and Carroll County are in a dispute over how much the county will reimburse the city for the project.

Approved the reappointment to the Parks Board of Stephen D. Allgeier and Anthony O. Biller, whose two-year terms expire at the end of next month.

Gave the mayor the authority to sign a contract with the state Department of Housing and Community Development that will allow the city to administer home-improvement loans for low-income households. The loans now are only available at the county and state level.

Approved a land-swap deal with Western Maryland College that will give the city the right-of-way at Uniontown Road and Main Street.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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