Officially on the market
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 11:30

RFP issued for Government Center site

by Ben Boehl

Baltimore County officially issued its public solicitations on Monday for the sale of three parcels of county property.
    The county announced its Request for Proposal (RFP) process in December for three properties that include the North Point Government Center, the Towson Fire Station and Public Works Facility and the Randallstown Police Substation.
    Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said the decision was made to generate revenue to help with school renovation projects and rebuild aging fire stations and police facilities without using taxpayer dollars. The properties will remain on the market until April 5.     
    The County could take another 30 to 60 days to negotiate the sales after the April 5 deadline.
    If sufficient funds are offered, the sale of each property will be presented to the County Council for approval, but if sufficient funds are not offered for a particular property, the County will not proceed with the sale.
    “I am delighted that the RFP is now on the street. As always, the market will tell us whether or not our valuation of the properties is correct. If we are right, then we will be able to replace a police precinct and a fire station for free at no cost to the taxpayers,” Kamenetz said in a statement.
    “We will also be able to dedicate funds for badly needed school renovation projects. Difficult economic times require us to devise new ways of doing business. We have to find creative ways to rebuild our aging infrastructure while protecting taxpayer dollars.”
    In the official North Point Government Center RFP on the county’s website, part of the agreement for the potential buyer is a requirement for replacement recreational facilities, to include fields comparable to the current recreational fields and a recreational center containing at least 21,000 square feet in a single floor.
    These new facilities can be located elsewhere in the Dundalk vicinity. Providing sufficient parking spaces at such facilities is also a part of the requirement.
    According to the RPF, a committee will decide if replacement facilities are up to county standards.
    The December announcement of the proposed RFP for the North Point Government Center stated the buyers of the land must keep the fields intact and under the operation of Baltimore County’s Department of Recreation and Parks or else provide comparable field space in the community that also would be under the operation of Recreation and Parks.
    At the time, the county  stated the recreation programs housed inside the Government Center would be moved to nearby schools or community centers.
    That caused some negative reaction and uncertainty for the programs inside that building.
    Programs such as the Sky is the Limit Community Theatre and Chorus of the Chesapeake are pondering their futures if the Government Center is closed.
    Debbie Staigerwald, director of the Sky is the Limit, and Bob Fogle, past president of the Chorus of the Chesapeake, both said that their groups will have nowhere to go because the theaters at local schools have their own school productions.
    Ellen Kobler, a spokesperson for the county, said that part of the building can be purchased and the recreation center can remain intact. If the whole building is purchased, then the recreation center must be replaced by the buyer.
    Kobler added that the recreation center will be large enough for the theater and all the programs currently in the building.
    “The 21,000-square-foot center is the size of three middle school gymnasiums,” Kobler said. 
    Michelle Schriefer, who started the Facebook page “Save The North Point Government Center,” said she is open to the idea of building a new recreation center but hopes there is no downtime between the opening of the new facility and the closing of the old.
    “If they’re are going to build us a new rec center, then they need to build it before they tear down the old one,” Schriefer said.
    She also announced that a meeting will be held on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 11 a.m. at the North Point Library and all the community groups affected by the closing of the Government Center are invited.
    “We are trying to get together,” Schriefer said.    
    “This meeting is for ‘Save the Government Center’ and for the ‘save the school’ groups so we can come together as a whole.”
    One piece of encouraging news that came for the ‘Save the Government Center’ group is that the Towson community was able to keep its park. There was a proposal to build a new fire station on part of Towson Manor Park, but the district’s councilman, David Marks, and the county found another location.
    Schriefer said that 7th District County Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. did not return her phone calls, but she said will keep contacting local officials.
    “It shows that our efforts can make a difference,” she said, “If (the Towson community members) can do it, we can do it down here.”