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No substation in new Thurmont police building

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(4/6)  A check from Frederick County might have overcome the Thurmont Town Commissioners and secured space for a sheriff's office substation in the new Thurmont Police station, but who would ultimately control the construction and building is what finally killed the idea of a joint project.

Despite potential economic benefits from building a combined Thurmont Police Station and Frederick County Sheriff's Office substation, the Thurmont Town Commissioners decided to let a previous decision to build only a Thurmont Police station stand during a special March 16 meeting.

"We're not trying to stick a needle in the county's eye," said Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns. "Because we have less bureaucracy, we can get things done quicker."

While recognizing the economic benefit, Thurmont Police Commissioner Chairman Tom Iaccarino said those benefits were only speculation with no commitment from the sheriff or county.

"If the sheriff could have put something on the table, he would have done it when he was here the other night," Iaccarino said.

Sheriff James Hagy had requested in a closed meeting with the commissioners that they reconsider their February decision. The commissioners voted during their Feb. 21 meeting to have NuTec Design in Frederick build the new 8,100-square-foot station for an estimated $1.8 million. The sheriff was still hoping that his office's substation could be part of the project.

The town had originally planned for the new police station to be large enough to house a substation as well. However, construction estimates that reached $240 per square foot, and an opening date that moved from 2007 to 2008, caused the commissioners to question a joint project with the county.

Commissioner Glenn Muth said he was willing to reconsider his motion because of the economic benefit to the town. Burns said he is leaning toward not reconsidering and Commissioner William Blakeslee said he would definitely not vote to change the commission's original decision.

The commissioners couldn't determine the lease amount for the sheriff's substation. The amount can't be determined until architectural drawings are made for a larger building. However, if the county were to back out of the agreement because it was too costly, the town would have paid for drawings it didn't need.

It is not economics that ultimately killed the joint project, but the issue of control and authority.

Though the commissioners were the ones discussing the issue and making the vote, they solicited the opinions of Thurmont Police Commission members, Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler and officers who were in attendance.

Eyler told the commissioners not to delay the project by including the substation. "These guys can't operate any more back here, effectively and efficiently," Eyler said. "I just don't think we should wait that long."

Iaccarino added that not having an adequate police station was hurting retention and recruitment of officers.

On the issue of control, Sergeant Michael Figgins said, "You bring the county in the building and it's only a matter of time before you don't have a Thurmont Police Department again."

The commissioners ultimately decided to let their original decision stand. Even without dedicated space in the new Thurmont Police station, sheriff's deputies and Maryland State Police will still be able to use the facility, just as they do now.

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