Bel Air Armory visit shows options for Crisfield’s armory

CRISFIELD — After a recent visit by city leaders to the Bel Air Armory City Manager Rick Pollitt expressed encouragement that Crisfield’s Maurice D. Tawes Armory can be restored to again serve the community, especially for youth sports.

Mr. Pollitt called the Harford County facility “basically a carbon copy of our own” and through outside funding primarily from the state the buildings and grounds were renovated to be “truly an economic engine for that city.”

Mr. Pollitt said the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has urged Crisfield to “follow a similar path” to make the old armory a center for community activities. He said DHCD Secretary Kenneth Holt has pledged $1 million to the city over the next four years to address environmental issues and replace the roof. Sen. Mary Beth Carozza is being asked to submit a bond bill for $1 million in the next General Assembly session to serve as a match.

The Bel Armory has a two-story section in front for offices and meetings similar to Crisfield, and a “drill hall” which here serves as the gymnasium for Salvation Army indoor sports. The building is currently not in use.

A $57,000 study paid for by the superstorm Sandy recovery fund was conducted by Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc. and turned over to the city in January 2018 outlining what’s necessary to bring it back to usable condition.

The first step is asbestos abatement, mold remediation and replacing the roof estimated to cost $244,000 for which a grant has been applied for through DHCD.

The Crisfield Armory was built in 1927 and housed National Guard units including the 1229th Transportation Co. It was the site for community programs for many decades, undergoing an extensive refurbishment in 1979.

In 1989, it was dedicated in honor of decorated D-Day veteran and Crisfield native Brig. Gen. Maurice D. “Dana” Tawes who retired from military service in 1969. He died in June 2013.

The lower level was flooded by Sandy in 2012 and the state gave the building to the city in 2014 provided it adhere to historic easements.