Construction

Some of the foundation has been laid for the forthcoming Elkton Community Center, and town officials expect work on the building itself to start next week, weather permitting.

ELKTON — In the near future, Elkton will make strong strides in improving the aesthetics of the town by tearing down a blighted building and gaining two new structures.

Elkton Town Administrator Lewis George announced during the town meeting this week that Wickersham Construction and Engineering Inc. should start building the long-awaited community center on Booth Street. Most of the foundation has been laid, and Wickersham has started review of electric and HVAC plans from its subcontractors.

Weather permitting, walls of the community center should start to go up Oct. 28. Targeted completion date is June 2020, two months ahead of the earlier schedule.

Elkton town officials had dreamed for 20 years of its own community center, with several plans proposed and floundered along the way. The closest the board has ever been until now was when the Elkton Board of Commissioners earmarked more than $1 million in the town’s fund balance for the project, but a budget shortfall forced the town to put back most of it.

So far, the town has spent $3.5 million on the project, and town Planning Director Jeanne Minner has already filed for partial reimbursement for the Community Development Block Grant funds. The state awarded Elkton $800,000 in CDBG funds for the project last year.

George also announced that the Maryland Department of General Services is preparing an agreement of sale for the LTC James Victor McCool Armory. Once the agreement is sent, Town Attorney John Downs will review it and bring it to the board of commissioners for discussion.

If Elkton agrees to the terms of sale, the Maryland Board of Public Works has to sign off on it. From there, the town could have a settlement 60 to 90 days later.

The Elkton Commissioners had agreed that it was critical for the town to maintain control of the armory, even though it has long since moved from its plans of repurposing it as the community center. What it could become is still up for determination, as the commissioners have yet to have a public discussion on the matter.

Finally, Downs reported that in a few weeks, 138-140 W. High St will be torn down. That property has long since been on the town’s radar as a blighted property.

At one point, people broke in the W. High Street duplex and started a fire in the house, Downs said. It went to tax sale repeatedly, and the current out-of-state owner has committed to tearing it down.

“I’ve been working on that house for three years, so we’ll turn that from an eyesore, a safety hazard and certainly a fire hazard into an empty lot,” Downs said.

The entire W. High St. duplex demolition should be a two-day project.

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