Hampstead council OKs bid for police station; Third round yields an acceptable offer


Hampstead could have a new police station as early as next summer after the Town Council voted last night to award a contract to a Towson company to renovate the former First National Bank building at 1112 Main St.

James F. Knott Construction Co. Inc. submitted the lowest bid, at $698,000, by yesterday afternoon's deadline. The council met in the evening and voted to accept it. Five other bids were submitted, with the highest at $773,000.

"It's unfortunately a little higher than we were looking for, but it's a good number," said Councilman Stephen A. Holland. The town has solicited bids for the project twice before, but each time scaled back the plans because bids came in higher than the $650,000 the council had approved in its 1999 capital improvement budget. The first round's lowest bid came in at about $1 million. The lowest bid in the second round was $800,000.

"The pencil has been sharpened as sharp as it can get," said Mayor Christopher M. Nevin.

The new police station would meet three goals: give the growing police force in a growing town a real station; preserve a historic and stately downtown building; and enhance Main Street with a public agency. The town hall and police are now on Carroll Street, several blocks from Main Street.

Architect Dean Robert Camlin of Westminster, who designed the renovation, said the plans call for extending the back of the building with a 15-by-28-foot addition to house an elevator and stairway, but to have it blend in with the existing building.

The 88-year-old brick bank building has limestone "quoins" that define the four corners of the building from the ground up, and a tin cornice around the edge of the roof, said Camlin.

"We're trying to keep those features and extend them into the addition," Camlin said.

The new station would have about 5,600 square feet on two floors. The current police headquarters consists of about 400 square feet in the back corner of the Town Hall.

The prisoner room is too small and not secure, and the station doesn't have a separate detention room for juveniles as required by law. On occasions when juveniles and adults are arrested at the same time, one or the other -- whoever is least volatile -- is detained in Police Chief R. Kenneth Meekins Jr.' office.

Desks are crammed into the front office, and prisoners come through the same door that everyone else uses, walking past clerical staff on the way to the detention room.

While Hampstead is still a low-crime area, Meekins said, the population has grown from 2,756 in 1990 to 4,419 this year. The force has grown from three officers to seven in that time.

Savings in the current version of the project will come from sacrificing some of the preservation inside the building.

For example, Meekins said, the tin ceiling will probably be covered rather than restored, as will some tile.

The original plan was to preserve the building -- including the old vault in the center of the first floor -- and put most of the working rooms of the station in an addition on the back, Meekins said. But when bids came in at around $1 million, that plan was scrapped.

Because the project would have to use only the existing building, the vault will have to be removed and the space used for things such as an interview room and restroom, Meekins said.

Pub Date: 10/13/99

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