Cumberland Times-News

November 2, 2012

Kelly questions Canal Place plans

Delegate wants timeline on Footer building before he gives his OK

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — One local lawmaker wants it signed, sealed and delivered before he’d back a request by the Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority for funding to renovate the dilapidated Footer Dye Works building.

“Unless the authority produces to the delegation a written, signed commitment from a developer ... I will not support the Canal Place authority’s $2 million funding request of the delegation,” Delegate Kevin Kelly wrote in an Oct. 28 email to his colleagues representing the 1st district.

Kelly said that the commitment must include the name of the developer, the scope of the project, the financial details and default provisions of the contract.

The delegate also wants to know what the developer’s plans are for the building and how much of the existing space will be utilized. He also wanted a timeline for the project.

“There are too many needs in Allegany County to justify utilizing $2 million of taxpayers’ dollars on a, ‘Trust us — build it and they will come,’ project,” Kelly said.

Now, some stabilization work is under way at the building, said Dee Dee Ritchie, the executive director of the authority.

“Stabilization work is scheduled to begin on the Footer Dye Works building on Monday ... weather permitting. Inspection of the roof was done in September, which resulted in Canal Place addressing repairs to the building that need to take place in order to stop water leaks and to secure entry to the building. Phase 2 of the stabilization will consist of roof repair, removal of the scaffolding and mortar repair,” Ritchie said in a Friday email.

The work will be paid for with state funds.

“Funding for this project is coming from the state of Maryland’s Community Legacy Program and the Maryland Historical Trust. Contracts have been awarded to Durable Slate Company ... professional contractors that specialize in historic preservation,” Ritchie said.

In late October, Canal Place leaders met with the delegation to request financial help. The local delegation consists of Kelly, Sen. George Edwards and Delegates LeRoy Myers Jr. and Wendell Beitzel.

At that meeting, legislators emphasized the need for a clear plan for the building.

The idea is to get the building into better condition so that a potential developer would be willing to step in with private money to fully restore the building and lease space, officials said.

Andy Vick and Ritchie met with the delegation. Vick is chairman of the authority’s board of directors.

The cost of stabilizing the building, just to a basic level, could run as high as $2 million, Ritchie said.

Board members, though, are in favor of preserving the building. That would take care of the structural part of the roof and 146 windows, among other things, at about $1,500 per window.

“The building is salvageable,” Vick said in response to a question from Myers.

The four floors of the building total 31,000 square feet or about 8,000 square feet per floor, said Myers.

Vick said it was important to do some work right away in order to protect the building from further deterioration.

“So, for $2 million, you have a restored shell,” Myers said at the October meeting.

To get support from other General Assembly members for funding, Myers said, the authority needs to show “that we have a plan, not just a dream.”

Legislators said $1.5 million had been allocated for an entryway to Canal Place and that perhaps the governor should be asked to re-allocate that money for the Footer Dye Works building, especially considering that the state was requiring the building be saved.

The legislators asked Ritchie to draft a letter to the governor for their review, explaining the situation and the restoration plan.