Residents say new Upper Marlboro Town Hall too pricey
Renovation and addition estimated at $1.23 million
by Kirsten Petersen / Staff writer
Image courtesy of Manns Woodward Studios
A sketch by White Marsh-based Manns Woodward Studios shows the view of a redesigned Town Hall from the approach to School Lane.
Upper Marlboro residents say they’re reeling from sticker shock after seeing plans for a $1.23 million Town Hall renovation and addition, a project that could cost nearly twice as much as town officials want to spend.
Sketches of a 4,200-square-foot Town Hall were presented by Rob Manns, the principal architect of White Marsh-based Manns Woodward Studios, during the Upper Marlboro town meeting April 13. The plans suggest converting the current Town Hall to the police department and building an addition with offices and a meeting room that would seat 40.
Steve Sonnett, president of the Upper Marlboro board of commissioners, said a renovation is necessary because the current building is energy inefficient and does not have enough office space for town business. He added that the Town Hall, which is approximately 1,677 square feet, is too small to entice town organizations or out-of-town groups to hold events there, Sonnett said.
“If we had a little bit better space we could start generating more interest by the community,” Sonnett said. “They would have a place to meet and integrate themselves into the sense of being part of the town.”
Sonnett said the building would cost $1,236,239 while soft costs such as design, engineering and furniture, would be $325,899. The board of commissioners is targeting a total cost under $700,000.
“We all were sitting there dumbfounded. When you talk about over a million dollars, we’re not that big,” said resident Linda Pennoyer. “I would absolutely love a bigger Town Hall, but if that means that kind of money, I would hold the meetings in my living room.”
This was the third plan offered by Manns Woodward Studios and Upper Marlboro-based Petro Design/Build Group. The board of commissioners have rejected larger, more modern designs in the past six months to cut the cost and find the best fit for the town.
Manns said the third plan was a savings of more than $800,000 from the previous design, which featured a larger facility and meeting room, but he said town officials will need to “do their homework” to cut down further on expenditures and soft costs.
“If they want to spend $700,000 I think it’s feasible for them to do something but it’s not going to get them to satisfy the initial goals we established,” Manns said.
Resident Brian Callicott said he was “flabbergasted” by the cost and said it would overwhelm the town’s budget. Renovating the current building sounded more appealing than constructing an addition, although he said more meeting space could benefit Upper Marlboro down the road.
“We have plenty of space to do normal things, but for the future I think it would be kind of nice to have a space where we can handle those types of events,” Callicott said.
Sonnett said the board of commissioners may look at completing the renovation and addition in stages to make the project more affordable. Infrastructure needs, such as widening the town’s narrow sidewalks and roads, may take precedence over the Town Hall effort.
“We’re not operating in the red, but it would seem inappropriate to put a lot of money into a Town Hall and not fund these other needs,” Sonnett said.