Harford County Council office building closed due to unsafe structural conditions, offices temporarily relocated

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The Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits announced this morning that the Harford County office building at 212 South Bond Street in Bel Air has been closed because it is structurally unsafe. The offices of the Harford County Council, the Department of Public Works (DPW), and the Cultural Arts Board are being temporarily relocated starting today. See the county press release below for details:

The offices of the Harford County Council, the Department of Public Works (DPW), and the Cultural Arts Board are being temporarily relocated to other locations effective today. A total of 72 personnel from both the County Council staff and DPW are affected by the move.

The office relocation was deemed necessary by Harford County Executive David R. Craig following a detailed structural review of the county-owned office building located at 212 South Bond Street in Bel Air. The analysis was requested by the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits (DILP) following a report by DPW employees of cracking in walls on the second floor of the structure in October of 2010. The first of two structural engineering evaluations was initiated in November and the second was completed in late December. The County Executive, in consultation with County Council President Billy Boniface, Director of Administration Mary Chance, and other cabinet officials, subsequently ordered the temporary relocations of offices and personnel until further analysis on the structure could be done.

The building, which was built in 1985, was purchased by Harford County Government in 1996 and currently houses the offices of the Harford County Council, Council Chambers, the Cultural Arts Board, as well as offices on the second and third floors for the Department of Public Works.

The second structural engineering report, issued by Howard Lawrence Schriefer, PE, recommends additional structural support for floor joists and trusses at several locations within the three-story structure. While there has been no order to condemn the structure, in the interest of safety to the occupants as well as the public, building officials with DILP have advised County Executive Craig that the building at this time is considered to be untenable for occupancy.

The offices of the Harford County Council are being relocated to the second floor of the county property located at 18 Office Street in Bel Air. Council President Boniface has announced that Dr. Robert Tomback, Superintendent of Schools and President Mark Wolkow of the Board of Education have offered the use of the Board Room on the first floor of the Harford County Public Schools’ A. A. Roberty Building located at 102 South Hickory Avenue in Bel Air for County Council business meetings. The Council proceedings slated for Tuesday, January 4 will be moved to the A. A. Roberty Building at their previously-scheduled times of 6:30pm for Public Hearings, and 7:30pm for the Legislative Session.

Until further notice, DPW offices are being temporarily moved to the following locations:

  • Office of the Director – 3rd Floor of 220 South Main Street, Bel Air
  • Bonding and Permits – 2nd Floor of 220 South Main Street, Bel Air
  • Traffic Engineering – DPW Offices in Hickory (1807 North Fountain Green Road, Bel Air)
  • Division of Water and Sewer – Harford County Emergency Operations Center in Hickory (2220 Ady Road, Forest Hill)

The Department of Procurement is currently working with DPW, DILP, the Administration, and the County Council to develop long-terms office solutions.

“The actions we are taking are precautionary based upon the professional judgment of building and codes officials and engineers,” stated County Executive David R. Craig. “As the owner of the building we are exercising due diligence to ensure the safety of the County Council, our employees and the public who frequents the offices at 212 South Bond Street.”

“We understand the necessity in taking these steps, as it was felt that there was no other alternative,” stated County Council President Billy Boniface. “The safety of our employees and the public is our number one priority. I hope that we can make these necessary relocations with as little disruption as possible, and I ask that the public be understanding during this transition.”