Commissioner Howard Proposes Concept for North Carroll High School
Westminster, MD
12/21/2016 09:15 AM

Last Thursday, County Commissioner Doug Howard proposed a framework for the possible redevelopment and use of the North Carroll High School Building. The framework called for a cooperative effort between the County, the Town of Hampstead, the Board of Education and the Department of Economic Development to explore a combined use for the facility. The Commissioners voted 4-1 to move the discussion forward by engaging each of these stakeholder groups.


The concept called for the dividing of access in the building to create area for private-sector business use, community services and the possible expansion of the Career & Tech program into additional space. The building is well suited for multiple uses as there are two distinct wings, a center section, lots of outside access and flexibility in the internal wall structure as well. The business section could provide office, meeting and maker space for area business and other amenities that could allow for a business conference. The community area would add access to outdoor facilities, the gymnasiums, auditorium and other classroom space. Potentially space for expanded Career & Tech space could accommodate many programs that do not require large equipment or facilities for their subject matter. The presentation made it clear that this was just a framework for starting a discussion and all stakeholders needed to be included in an open process for deciding its best use. The presentation stated: Any idea for the proposed use of the school must include a full and open discussion with the Board of Education, Town of Hampstead and other stakeholders. This is just the framework of an idea.


Several goals were identified in taking such an approach. The first is to get the facility back in use and act as an important part of the Hampstead community. Another goal was to make sure that this challenging situation resulted in some additional consideration for the town and its community needs. This is at least the maintenance of the athletic fields but could also include the addition of function space, an arts center and further development of the stadium. Also, the business portion is important to help support the cost of the facility, but any business activity must be in line with the objectives of the town and in support of, not in competition with, Main St and local businesses. Finally, the expansion of the Career & Tech Center programs could help eliminate the 300+ students being turned away from programs each year and eliminate the need for the very expensive plans to build a new Career & Tech.


“We need to be creative in our thinking, careful in our planning and seeking the input, ideas and involvement of all stakeholders if we are to come down on a project that meet these goals” said Commissioner Howard. “I look forward to seeing what comes from these discussions and working through ideas that will be beneficial to the town and the county going forward”.

Reference
Vivian Daly
410-386-2043
 
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