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Executive Kittleman identifies property to advance plan to preserve Harriet Tubman School

Executive Kittleman identifies property to advance plan to preserve Harriet Tubman School

February 23, 2017

Media Contact:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today prefiled legislation seeking the transfer of $3.4 million to allow the County to acquire property at 9020 Mendenhall Court in Columbia. Once purchased, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) would transfer its departments of maintenance and school construction to that location from the Harriet Tubman School, clearing the way for the County to preserve the school as a cultural and educational center.

The Harriet Tubman School, which opened in 1949, served as the County’s only all-black high school until it was closed through desegregation in 1965. For more than three decades it has been used as office and storage space for the school system.

“This project is near and dear to my heart, and for more than 20 years, the community has asked that this school be put to a more appropriate use,” said Kittleman. “I look forward to celebrating Harriet Tubman Day at the school this fall and seeing it preserved to teach our county’s story of desegregation to future generations.”

“The purchase of the Mendenhall property will allow us to move our current operations to a new central location and at the same time help preserve one of our County’s most historic buildings,” said Cindy Vaillancourt, Chair of the Howard County Board of Education. “The Tubman School is a landmark in our county and once preserved it will have a powerful story to tell. I am so pleased that we have been able to work in partnership with the County to move this important goal forward”

The Mendenhall property is a 49,000 square foot office building constructed in 1981 and currently owned by Howard MD Green LLC. It would provide parking for more than 200 vehicles and allow HCPSS to further consolidate a portion of its operations by relocating from property the County leases on Ridge Road in Ellicott City. The County also plans to move its police evidence storage and fire department’s Quartermaster to the Mendenhall property from their current locations at the Dorsey Building on Bendix Road.

“I am very pleased with the collaboration and commitment that we received while working with County Executive Kittleman and his staff to find a property to meet the needs of the school system,” said Dr. Renee A. Foose, Superintendent of HCPSS. “I agree with the county executive that preserving the historic, educational and cultural value of the Harriett Tubman School Building is a priority, and this purchase brings us that much closer to reaching our shared goal."

“We, the Harriet Tubman High School alumni, parents, teachers and community are delighted to learn that the Harriet Tubman building will soon belong to us, the community,” said Bessie Bordenave, a 1962 graduate of the school. “We thank the county executive and all others for their leadership, dedication and commitment in helping to move this project forward. We are hopeful that the September 2017 Harriet Tubman Day will be held at this location.”

The $3.4 million would come from a variety of funds that had been allocated for acquisition of school sites, remediation and facilities. The total purchase price is expected to be approximately $5.2 million.