RIDGELEY -- The demolition of the former Ridgeley School is one step closer to reality with an agreement reached Tuesday between the Ridgeley Town Council and the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Department.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
RIDGELEY -- The demolition of the former Ridgeley School is one step closer to reality with an agreement reached Tuesday between the Ridgeley Town Council and the Ridgeley Volunteer Fire Department.
Built in 1934 and serving the community until the construction of Frankfort High School in 1976, the school has been left to deteriorate in recent years due to costs associated with asbestos removal and demolition.
Robbie Pollock, president of the fire department, updated the council on discussions with local banks to fund the department’s 50 percent match on the asbestos removal and demolition, noting that lenders want something in writing guarantying that the department will be deeded a 100X100 foot section of the property for construction of a new fire station.
Ridgeley’s station was built in the 1940s and in recent years, members sought emergency funding to reinforce the rear wall of the station, which is continuing to cave in.
Once the school building is razed, the property will be surveyed, but in the meantime Pollock needs “something in writing that we are guaranteed to own that section of property.”
“We’re looking at two stories with five bays on the front and three in the back,” Pollock said on the new station, which will be built to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) specifications.
“It’s long overdue. We need a new fire station,” said commissioner Duke Lantz.
The next step in the process is meeting with the attorney to get this commitment from the town in writing so that the funding process can proceed.
While both the council and the fire department would like to see the demolition as soon as possible, with hopes of prior to the start of the youth league football season, given waiting periods, etc. the town is more realistic in thinking that it will be done before the ground freezes.
The asbestos removal is estimated to take a week and will be a contained process with outside monitoring of air quality.
The demolition is estimated for another week followed by clean-up.
In order to make the process go as smoothly as possible the town will be working closely with the youth league teams and KinderCenter day care in the adjacent building with concerns for safety and parking.
In other business this week, the Mayor Mark Jones announced that Jake Ryan has been hired as a new police chief and a James Smith has joined the public works department.
Ryan reported that the department has responded to 23 incidents including trespassing and disorderly conduct and 18 traffic stops.
He noted that he has been in contact with state and county law enforcement agencies and is hoping for increased cooperation between the agencies.
Given increasing concerns of damage to local properties by truck traffic, the town will be posting narrow street signs.
Jones reported that he has spoken with John Gardener of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad concerning needed attention to railroad crossing.
“They are slowly going to get into some of these projects,” Jones said.
He also confirmed that when the bridge is hit by trucks that it is inspected and that the rails are inspected weekly.
The town is continuing to work on updating its ordinances with the first reading on the ordinance on election procedures and plans underway to address the building permit ordinances and fees as well as concerns for parking on the sidewalk.