Frederick County Council Agrees To Buy, Fit-Out Warehouse

It will be used to store personal protective equipment.                                                                                                                       


Frederick, Md (KM) More than $7.7-million has been set aside by the Frederick County Council to purchase and fit-out a warehouse to store personal protective equipment. The vote on Tuesday was unanimous following a lengthy discussion.

Rick Harcum, Chief Administrative Officer, says  this additional space is needed to store items such as N-95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, gowns and sterilization equipment. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. “W hat  we have a lack of right now is a place to store all of this material,” he said. “Much of what we’re talking about is literally surgical grade material and it needs to be maintained in temperature and humidity-controlled space.”

Harcum says the county was storing it at a warehouse on Scholls Lane, but it’s run out of space. So the former Scott Key Center was used for storage because the building has air conditioning.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, obtaining the needed PPE has been a challenge, according to Jack Markey, Director of Emergency Management. He says many jurisdictions have not been able to rely on the federal government as their supplier. “The traditional federal support for that supply chain for those crisis materials is not there. There are portions of that of it that are there that are helping us. But we cannot solely on federal activity or state activity to satisfy our needs,” says Markey.

“One thing that COVID made abundantly clear to emergency services groups across the country is that when there is a worldwide pandemic, supply chains do not exist,” said Chief Tom Coe of the Division of Fire and Rescue Services. “Everybody is fighting for the same equipment.”

He also said once the coronavirus pandemic passes, the county will still need this equipment and a place to store it. “Five years from how, COVID might not be an issue,” he said. “But it doesn’t change the need for public safety storage of personal protective equipment for a public health emergency that we don’t know what might come down the pike.”

The total cost of the project, both the purchase of the warehouse and the fitting out, is expected to $7.76-million, with $4.06-million for building acquisition, and $3,7-million for fitting out. County documents say funds for the tit-out costs will be offset by $1-million from the federal CARES Act, which will reduce the net cost to $6.76-million. The county is also planning to sell the property on Scholls Lane and use  the proceeds to offset the cost of purchasing the property. The Scholls Lane site has been assessed at $1.8-million, which lowers the county’s total investment to $4.96-million, according to county documents.

The county is also expected to receive some additional revenue from a statewide increase in the 911 fee on phone bills.

The closing on this new facility is expected on October 15th. County officials have not revealed the location of this property.

Chief Administrative Officer Harcum said, in normal times, this item would have been part of the Capital Improvements Program, and would go through the budget process like other projects. But this project was pushed up because it’s related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


By Kevin McManus