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Fate Uncertain For Historic Holt Park Cabin

A backhoe and roll-off trash bin sit beside boarded up cabin and park advocates say the county has a demolition permit but a county spokeswoman says nothing has been decided.

UPDATE (2 p.m. July 25)— Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler confirmed this morning that a permit to raze the cabin was issued by the county on June 29.

A backhoe and a roll-off trash bin sit outside a boarded up cabin near the entrance to Lillian Holt Park and Center for the Arts in the Elmwood neighborhood.

The building, used for storage and meeting space for performers and volunteers, was set to be torn down by Baltimore County, but now the future of the 80-year-old cabin is uncertain.

Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler told Patch Tuesday morning that a final decision about razing the cabin had yet to be made.

"The county executive is aware of the community interest in the building," Kobler said. "The current status is that we're boarding it up and stabilizing the building. The bottom line is no decision has been made yet."

Carol Eldringhoff, a community member who serves as an officer for the Overlea-Fullerton Recreation Council and as the chairperson for programs at the Holt Center for the Arts, has been leading the charge to ensure that the cabin is not demolished.

Early last week, Eldringhoff said that she arrived at the park to find a 30 cubic yard roll-off dumpster in the parking lot, a backhoe parked outside of the building atop a garden planted by children in a park program, and the electric meter removed from cabin.

"I work in construction, so this is not my first rodeo," Eldringhoff said. "Those things all add up to 'the building's going to be demolished'.

The chain of events that led up to the current situation began a year ago, Eldringhoff said.

"We learned last year that the cabin had sustained some damage from carpenter bees," Eldringhoff said. "We reported it to the county's property management and to the community supervisor for parks and rec."

"The county refused to mitigate the carpenter bee damage… it’s gone on for over a year and only gotten worse. If they had, we wouldn't be having this conversation," she said. "If you ignore a problem it's just going to get bigger and bigger."

Kobler explained that the estimated cost to rehabilitate the cabin is around $150,000 and includes the removal of asbestos and lead paint on the property.

"We are evaluating the structure and our options," she said. "It's a purely pragmatic decision based on—among other things—the expenditure of taxpayer money. The final decision will be made by the county administrative officer [Fred Homan]."

"We've been granted a stay of execution for now," Eldringhoff said.

She explained that a county official had told her the property was scheduled for demolition last Wednesday and that a permit to raze the structure had been approved by the county. She was able to provide a what she said was a Baltimore County permit number.

"I spoke to George Klunk, the head of the county's property management, and he told me it's slated for demolition," she said.

Kobler, for her part, was unable to confirm or deny whether or not a permit to raze the structure had been granted even after being provided Tuesday afternoon.

There are a total of 5 cabins on the Lilian Holt park property—two are rented out by the county to individuals; the cabin near the park's entrance was used to store materials for the art programs, which have since been moved by the county to another building.

"The history of the cabins on the property is that during the depression, Mrs. Holt—she was Mrs. McCormick then—was in her 40's and not married. Her father was concerned with how she would support herself when he died so the  cabins were built on the property as an income source for her in her old age and spinsterhood," Eldringhoff said. "So it's important for the historic value."

Eldringhoff said that the building, which is on the register of historic places, is not on the Baltimore County landmarks list and is not currently subject to protection as a result.

"I really believe that if I hadn’t noticed the machinery on Tuesday the 17, the building would have been gone by now. They have the razing permit they don’t need anything else," she said.

Marje Lentz July 26, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Well said Kevin, Mr. Kamenatz has turned a blind eye to this side of town ever since the election. Well, another one is needed to further his stepping stones to the top.
Stephanie Pullara Vancura July 28, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Love enjoying the park and the activities as a family. The park has some wonderful programs offered to children of the community. Don't think this would be happening if it directly affected Mr. Kamenetz or his family.
Concerned too July 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Has anyone heard from Cathy Bevins and her position on this as the Councilwoman for the District?
Concerned too July 31, 2012 at 08:40 PM
It may be late in the game to save this cabin, but I strongly suggest you complete a landmark application for the rest of the Park. Go to: http://resources.baltimorecountymd.gov/Documents/Planning/historic/landmarksnominationformAug2009.pdf Contact TrishBentz@bcht.org if you have questions.
Pauline Robinson August 06, 2012 at 09:26 AM
Anna, I put your lovely photo of the cabin at the top of the article. I am sorry about the credit... Thanks for the link. Paulina

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