City refinances Piney debt, to save $400K over 20 years PDF Print E-mail
Community News - Community News
Written by Richard Kerns   
Thursday, 16 October 2008 22:51

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FROSTBURG - The Frostburg Mayor and City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to refinance debt from the Piney Dam reconstruction, securing long-term savings of nearly $400,000 even as the nation grapples with economic upheaval of historic proportions.

The City Council also approved the sale of the old ambulance building on Water Street to a Frostburg businesswoman, recognized the developer of the Lyric Building on Main Street, and established a date and time for trick-or-treating.

Although only three financial institutions submitted bids for the Piney Dam refinancing - about one-third of the normal participation rate -- the city was able to lock in an interest rate of 4.09 percent over 10 years. That rate will reset at the end of the term for another 10 years, but Davenport & Company, the city's financial advisors, noted that the new rate would have to be almost 50 percent higher for the city to not realize savings on the refinancing. While noting that "there are no absolutes anymore," Davenport said the "likelihood is small" that reset rates would be so high.

The end result of the refinancing is that city taxpayers will realize a savings of $394,352 over the course of the 20-year loan, with the vast majority of the savings occurring in the next two years.


Ambulance Building

In other business, the mayor and council unanimously approved the sale of the city- owned former ambulance building at 22 S. Water St. to Barb Armstrong, co-owner of Armstrong Insurance, also on Water Street.

The city had put the building up for sale as surplus property after receiving an expression of interest in purchasing the building from A2Z Property Management. After the property was advertised for sale, four individuals toured the building, and two submitted bids.

Armstrong prevailed with a $50,000 bid notable not just for the winning bid amount, but also for her plans to renovate the building as a mixed public-private venture.

Armstrong said she plans to reside in the building while her own home is being renovated, and eventually hopes to renovate the structure with both a private living area and public meeting spaces to complement the adjacent City Place complex.

In brief remarks to the mayor and council, Armstrong said she was drawn to the building by its historic character, and the central role it played in the city at the turn of the century.

"It has history to it," she said. "I'd hate to see any of that history lost."

A more in-depth examination of Armstrong's plans for the building will be featured in the Appalachian Independent next week.

Mountain City Angel

At the outset of Thursday's meeting, the mayor and city council recognized Michael Joy, developer of the Lyric Building, as a "Mountain City Angel" in recognition of his contribution to the community in preserving the Main Street building, which was gutted by fire in 2004 and believed damaged beyond repair.

"Certain people see things the rest of us may not; Michael Joy is one of these special people," Mayor Arthur Bond said in bestowing the recognition. "Where we may have seen a burned-out shell with little or no chance of success, he saw a new opportunity to invest in a community ... Thankfully Michael Joy had one of his visions when he saw the Lyric Building on Main Street."

In accepting the award, Joy noted that administrative offices of Frostburg State University are set to move into the building by the end of the month, complementing the bookstore that opened in the ground-floor retail space in September.

"It's taken longer than we anticipated, but it's worked out very well," he said. "I'm really proud of it."

Trick or Treating

Finally, the Mayor and Council set Wednesday, Oct. 29 as trick-or-treating night in Frostburg, with the door-to-door candy campaign to be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Trick or treating will be limited to children 14 and under who are in costume.

Residents should turn on their porch lights if they wish to participate. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children and examine the candy they receive.

Councilman Doug Lemmert, commissioner of parks and recreation, said the city chose Wednesday night, rather than Halloween night itself, because of the increased traffic and activity in the community on Friday nights.

"I believe the town's too busy on Friday night to have kids wandering around," he said. "I just didn't want to risk it."

In addition, Frostburg's traditional Halloween Parade will be held the next night, Thursday, Oct. 30, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street.

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