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North Beach to use community center for museum

By MEGHAN RUSSELLStaff writer

The Bayside History Museum is one step closer to moving to a new location, as the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners unanimously closed the record following a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday.

Last July, North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer requested a transfer of ownership of the North Beach Community Center building from the county to the town, to use as the new location of the public museum. At the board’s direction, the Department of General Services negotiated a 30-year lease agreement, which takes effect July 1, 2012, in which the town will rent the building for $1 a year, provide funding for repairs and maintenance and pay all utility costs and fees associated with the use and operation of the facility.

As part of the agreement, the town must provide alternate accommodations for the county’s Parks and Recreation Division programs and activities that will be displaced by closing the community center. The Boys & Girls Club in North Beach has said there is space available for those programs during specific times at its facility, and county staff said it would return to the BOCC in two weeks with more detailed assurances that those needs can be met, at which point the board will officially approve the agreement.

“This should be a win-win for everybody,” Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said.

The current location of the history museum, a converted single-family home, is about 10 years old, Frazer said.

“It is not highly visible and certainly not accessible,” he said.

The new building, located next door, has had a history of serving the community, as it was the first town firehouse, a library at one point and the community center, Frazer said. However, he continued, the senior programs it housed moved to the senior center when that opened, the children’s programs relocated to the Boys & Girls Club and “what we have now is an underutilized facility.”

Frazer said the Bayside History Museum has the potential to become what the Calvert Marine Museum is to Solomons, boosting tourism and teaching about county history as well as the town’s history.

“I’m in strong support of the lease and having the Bayside museum move to a greater space,” North Beach Town Councilman Ken Wilcox said. “We are building up a wonderful collection of history museums that should bring more tourism to our county.”

“I would love to see the museum thrive and prosper,” said Roz Racanello of the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium. She also said the current building is not handicap accessible.

Grace Mary Brady, president of the museum board, said the lease approval is timely because the museum received the only 1632 Capt. John Smith book in the country and will lose a state bond bill for the John Smith exhibit if the lease is not signed by May 31.

The commissioners’ main concern, however, was whether the Boys & Girls Club could adequately house parks and recreation programs while keeping children safe.

Joy Hill, chief development officer for the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maryland, said the county could use the building for adult programs during school hours when students aren’t there, and for a two-week period in the summer when there are no kids there. Young people who used the county’s programs also can join the Boys & Girls Club.

“We’re willing to share,” she said, adding that there is an arts and crafts room, a computer lab, a multi-purpose room, a gym, a yoga/dance space, offices, performance space and full kitchen the county could use, and that adult bathrooms will be located on the second floor, while children’s bathrooms will be on the first. “The services to children at parks and rec would not have to be cut at all.”

“I can assure you, the Town of North Beach will do everything it can to ensure the transition is a smooth one,” Frazer said.

Commissioner Pat Nutter (R) said he was satisfied with the agreement and is sure “we will together find an alternative for the programs.”

In other business, the commissioners:

ź Proclaimed April “Archaeology Month” in Calvert County;

ź Unanimously designated County Attorney John Norris as the county’s resident agent with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation;

ź Unanimously approved a lease for the Red Cross to continue using county office space free of charge;

ź Unanimously awarded a contract to Robert L. Webster Jr. dba Crystal Clean Services of Upper Marlboro for carpeting, matting, furniture and drapery cleaning services on an as-needed basis;

ź Unanimously awarded a contract in the amount of $48,250 to Patriot Land and Wildlife Management Services Inc. of Barnesville for plant installation at 24 sites as part of the county’s Spring 2012 Reforestation Project;

ź Unanimously supported closing the Solomons Boat Ramp from 12 p.m. Sept. 14 to 12 p.m. Sept. 17 for the annual power boat races, contingent upon reaching a monetary agreement with the ramp contractor;

ź Unanimously approved certification of transferable development rights for the Suit property on Sollers Wharf Road;

ź Unanimously approved a change order in the amount of $6,050.74 for Corinthian Contractors Inc. to take care of unforeseen adjustments in the Chaneyville Road Bridge repair project.

mrussell@somdnews.com