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Town of Upper Marlboro expanding historic town hall

UM Town Hall PoseUPPER MARLBORO – One of the county’s oldest municipalities is getting a new addition.

On June 14, elected officials representing the town of Upper Marlboro gathered at the town hall on School Lane to mark the start of construction on the building’s extension, which just received the necessary permits that day. Among those present were state Senate President Mike Miller; Del. Tony Knotts, County Executive Rushern Baker, III, Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Jim Coleman, and the three elected town commissioners for Upper Marlboro.

“There’s been jubilation, despair, heated discussion among town residents, but here we are, on the cusp of the building phase, finally,” said Town Commissioner Nancy Clagett.

The extension will give town officials more space to store the town archives and emergency preparedness supplies, host more and larger community events and meetings, and update the broadcasting equipment. The police department will also gain more space, secure storage capabilities, and will be able to access national crime databases without having to travel to other facilities. Residents will also benefit from new security features like security cameras and a double-entry portico.

There will also be space to display art and history exhibits.

“A vast display for town historic artifacts and artists’ exhibits will be installed,” Coleman said. “There are a lot of things that are going to come out of this great project.”

Construction is expected to be completed in January of 2018.

The town hall expansion project is nearly seven years in the making, with all the money coming from town tax funds. The current, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, energy-efficient design is the result of a joint town and engineering firm effort, a partnership designed to cut costs, Upper Marlboro President James Storey said.

“The town board attempted, initially, a design-build process several years ago, and found out it was not cost-effective. So it morphed into the current amalgam of the town team and engineer team effort,” he said, adding that it will be an “attractively designed and highly functional building.”

According to the town newsletter, even after paying for the town hall expansion, there will be “ample” money left over in Upper Marlboro’s reserves.

The building has a long history as a gathering place in Upper Marlboro. Originally built as an open-roofed community pool, the town took over the building in 1983 to use as the town hall.

Coleman said the town hall extension is just one part of a “renaissance” for the county seat.

“In his final speech as president, President Ronald Reagan spoke of a shining city upon a hill,” he said. “That’s also how we think of Upper Marlboro today, as well as in its bright future.

“This facility will create a new shine for Upper Marlboro, as it is the shining city upon a hill,” Coleman added.

In addition to the new town hall, Upper Marlboro’s main street is getting a “facelift,” thanks to funding from the Sustainable Communities Matrix project at the state level.

Even though the county has purchased buildings in Largo to house some government functions in the future, Baker assured Upper Marlboro leaders that the town will remain the county seat.

“We’re very pleased to have this expansion of the town hall, and all the work they’re doing in Upper Marlboro,” he said. “This is the county seat. It will always be the county seat.”

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