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Thurmont police station design
 nearly complete

Patrick Dunne

(11/30) A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Thurmont Police Department may not occur until next year.

Construction might have started by that time, according to Rick May, town clerk, because the Thurmont Police Department hopes to open the $1.8 million station on July 4, 2007.

Mayor Martin Burns said the ‘‘ceremonial" groundbreaking ceremony, which was scheduled for Nov. 18 but later canceled, would have preceded contracts that haven’t been approved. ‘‘There is a conceptual design of the outside and the inside," he said. ‘‘We expect in the next 30 days to have the final bids in."

The town has designs for a roughly 11,000-square-foot, one-story building with holding cells, office space, and other police needs.

It was created by NuTec Design Associates, of Frederick, based on police stations in Taneytown and Denton, as well as input from Thurmont police officers.

However, the outstanding bids meant the Nov. 18 groundbreaking ceremony would have been purely ceremonial to coincide with a similar ceremony for the new Thurmont Branch of the Frederick County Public Libraries.

Burns said combining the ceremonies made sense because town and county officials and residents were already on hand.

He said the outstanding bids deal with the color of walls, type of roof shingle, and items that will not affect construction of the building.

Resident Gary Seiss told the Thurmont Town Council in July that he would handle the contracting duties free of charge.

Burns said Seiss sent out bids for almost every facet of the new building, and the commissioners approve them when they come back in. Seiss made recommendations to the council through the planning process, but the commissioners made all the decisions.

Police Chief Greg Eyler said police planned the building to better serve residents, rather than the cramped 557 square feet of offices, evidence rooms and armory space in Thurmont Town Hall.

‘‘We want to build this for current needs and future needs, so if we increase our staff, we’ll have room for that," he said. ‘‘If we increase our staff size, then naturally, our records will increase, too."

The building will belong solely to the Thurmont Police Department, and not shared with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Eyler said timing and cost were major factors in that decision. ‘‘We wanted to get this through quicker, and working with county would just have taken longer," he said.

In January, Thurmont town officials considered dissolving the Thurmont Police Department in favor of hiring sheriff’s deputies to police the town.

Burns said residents supported keeping the town’s police force, no matter the cost. ‘‘The town overwhelmingly said, ‘Hey, we don’t want any part of the Sheriff’s Office or state police. We like our current force and we would like you to do everything in your power to take care of recruiting and retention issues,’" he said.

Burns said the state and county award Thurmont for police protection because the town provides its own service instead of relying on county and state police. The department consists of a chief and 10 officers budgeted at more than $632,000, including equipment and vehicles, for fiscal 2007.

Thurmont, Brunswick and Frederick city are the only municipalities in Frederick County that have their own police forces.

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