Council to decide on bids for old town hall repairs

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ELKTON — The house that the town’s government once called home could be in for a thorough examination sometime soon.

During its work session Monday night, Elkton Town Council members agreed to vote next Monday on solicit bids for an engineer to study the building and find out what would have to be done to make it usable for government offices again.

Town staffers were forced from the former Town Hall building at 173 W. Spotswood Ave. a year ago following a flood on the lower level. They’ve been working from the Elkton Area Community Center ever since.

Mold-remediation and asbestos-removal work has been completed, but doubts about whether the town can afford to repair the historic structure have left the issue at a standstill.

“I love that house. It’s a beautiful house,” said Mayor Wayne Printz, who has questioned whether the town should go to the expense of fixing up the building that was used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. “I just don’t know. It’s so complicated.”

Troy Shifflett, Elkton’s public works director, told the council members that an engineer with historic restoration experience who was working on another project for the town recently toured the structure.

New wiring and plumbing throughout the house, the installation of a fire-suppression system, and adding an elevator to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was part of the laundry list of issues that would have to be addressed.

“Doing it correctly and getting everything back to where it should be,” said Shifflett, “... you’re looking at a minimum of $2 million, minimum.”

Mold Upstairs?
Shifflett said mold “more than likely” is in the walls of the top floor, which weren’t touched when remediation work was done earlier.

When the remediation work was done this year, he said, the mold on the ground level where the flooding occurred was different from that found on the second floor. He attributed the difference to window air conditioners.

“You’ve got to put a heat pump system in,” said Shifflett. “The air conditioners caused the mold on the second and third floors to start with, because it was a different mold on the first floor.”

Councilman Jeff Jones noted that no one knows if there is mold inside the third-floor walls.

“We need to find out for sure,” he said.

Shifflett said the walls would have to be demolished to find out for sure, which would require a lot of work because they’re plaster.

Because contractors will need a bid book detailing the scope of the project to bid the work effectively, hiring an engineer to put together the plan is necessary. But because the cost could be prohibitive, Printz questioned whether the council members should spend money hiring an engineer.

“But can we not do this?” Councilman Joshua Gooden asked. “Because if we don’t do anything, it’ll end up exactly like the Kite House, almost falling down.”

The house was built in 1840 by Dr. Simeon Jennings, who cared for wounded Confederate soldiers in the house following the battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic in June 1862.

In other action, the council members agreed that they all wanted to be part of the interview process for a new community center director. They set 1 p.m. Sept. 27 as the time for a closed-session meeting to interview the candidates.

Personnel Committee members are to get the list of the people they’re interested in speaking with to Town Clerk Denise Monger so she can schedule the interviews.

The panel set a joint meeting with the Planning Commission for 6:45 p.m. Oct. 16 for a public hearing and expected vote on whether the town should be granted a special exception to its sign ordinance for a new sign at the EACC. The marker planned for the facility doesn’t comply with the town’s ordinance.

Council members plan to decide at their regular business meeting Monday whether to spend $16,201 for a cab, snow blower and broom for the all-wheel drive lawnmower the town is buying. The equipment would allow public works staff members to quickly clean snow from sidewalks.

The panel also agreed to postponed Friday’s scheduled Family Fun Night at the EACC due to what at the time was a rainy weather forecast. The tentative new date is Sept. 23.

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