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Location of new Thurmont Regional Library finally established

Chris Patterson

Thurmont town commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the placement of the new Thurmont Regional Library on the town's property at the corner of Moser Road and Thurmont Boulevard.

The decision  which places the library close to the street - will put the future construction of any town buildings further back onto the property, a decision with which Mayor Martin Burns was not entirely comfortable.

The town purchased the 18.3-acre lot in 2000. It borders another lot to the south and east owned by Thurmont Electric Company.

Thurmont's board made a decision to donate the land for the new 25,000 square-foot library to get the library sooner than was originally planned. The library was situated behind a new town hall in the most recent plans prepared by ARRO Engineering.

But during a recent town meeting, the commissioners agreed they were not certain when or if the town would proceed with building any town offices and informed the library management that they would consider a site for the library that was closer to the front of the lot.

Marlene Walli Shade, of the library's architectural firm Phillips Swager Associates of McLean, Va., described the preliminary location plan to the board of commissioners, who were generally pleased with the design.

With the library placed at the corner, the town would not have to fund the completion of a long stretch of Thurmont Boulevard immediately, which was originally planned if the library was further back on the site.

Shade said many challenges came up in deciding on the location, including two major easements cutting across the property and a myriad of wetland locations each surrounded by 25-foot buffers that she said made the property look like "swiss cheese."

One of the hopes, she said, is that the design will incorporate certain design elements from the Catoctin Furnace and include features that provide outdoor learning opportunities that merge into the wetland areas.

Burns asked for a week or more to get feedback from town staff and from town residents about the location change. But Frederick County Public Libraries Director Darryl Batson said he needed a decision immediately.

Burns, who was not comfortable with that, asked the board to wait on giving the go-ahead for the location, but the board voted unanimously to support the location as presented.

The next step is for the architects to go continue with the design and site plan, which will be brought to the town planning commission.

Ethics Commission member appointed

In other business, the board voted to approve the appointment of Melissa Oland as the new member of the Ethics Commission. Commissioners Glenn Muth and Ron Terpko voted for the appointment, while Commissioner Bill Blakeslee voted against the appointment. Commissioner Wayne Hooper did not vote because the ethics commission is being convened to consider a request to investigate him.

The question, raised by resident John Ashbury, is whether there were any ethical violations by Hooper or other town officials in regard to Hooper's utility bills. His electric bills went unpaid for an extended period but were not shut off while other residents' bills were.

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