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Shepherdstown Town Hall to be razed to make way for new one

New building will meet all requirements of the American with Disabilities Act

July 14, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • The old Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Town Hall is expected to be razed later this year to make way for a new, bigger Town Hall.
Richard F. Belisle, Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The current Shepherdstown Town Hall was built in 1940 and resembles one of those false-front buildings seen in old Western movies.

The 70-year-old structure -- a 1,000-square-foot, single-story, white concrete block building on north King Street -- soon will be razed to make room for a 4,300-square-foot, two-story town hall building.

On Tuesday, the Shepherdstown Town Council opened construction bids for the new building, several of which came in below the council's $1 million budget, Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer said.

The council is expected to sign a construction contract at a special meeting Tuesday, Auxer said. He said demolition could begin in late August or early September.

As of Wednesday, Auxer said the council had not found temporary quarters to serve Town Hall functions during the 10-month construction period.

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"We're still looking," he said.

Shepherdstown's share of video lottery funds will finance the construction, Town Clerk Amy Boyd said.

Town Hall visitors have to climb two sets of stairs to enter the current town hall. The new building will meet all requirements of the American with Disabilities Act, Auxer said.

The Shepherdstown Police Department, including Chief Tim Johnson, four full-time officers, a full-time parking enforcement officer and secretary, will move into the first floor of the new town hall.

The town council meeting room, which will serve a dual role as the municipal courtroom, also will be on the first floor.

The police department currently pays $1,000 a month to rent office space in a strip shopping mall on South Princess Street, Johnson said.

"It will be better for us to be in the same building close to everything,"he said. "Town offices need to be closer together."

Another plus, Auxer said, is that court records no longer will have to be wheeled down the street from the town hall to the Men's Club building whenever Municipal Judge Frank Hill holds court.

The second floor will provide office space for the mayor, town, billing and accounts clerk, zoning officer and receptionist.

Auxer said the new building has met all requirements of the planning commission and Historic Landmarks Commission.

Not everyone is pleased over the razing of the old building. Local artist Diana Suttenfield and a handful of residents questioned the need to demolish the building, preferring instead that it be somehow incorporated into the new design.

Suttenfield said the building is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

"It's very important to save it. It has unique architectural features," she said.

The concrete block siding was designed to represent a ship's lap siding effect.

"It took a lot of thought at the time," she said.

"It represents the architecture of the period," she said. "At one time, there were flower boxes and shutters on the building and a bench outside."

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