Rockville approves preliminary steps for King Farm Farmstead -- Gazette.Net



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Rockville is taking some preliminary steps toward preserving the King Farm Farmstead Park, as city officials work to determine a more detailed plan for the farm.

While some of the structures have potential for future use, others are deteriorating and the need to find a use for the site is increasing, according to a report on the facility provided to the mayor and City Council.

They voted 4-0 Monday night to schedule a briefing with the city’s Historic District Commission and allocate money to deal with groundhogs on the property and assess it for hazardous materials while they consider what should be done with the property in the long term.

The city needs to start making some decisions on the farm, said Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.

“We cannot wait any longer,” she said.

The steps approved Monday will cost from $22,000 to $32,000. The report estimates that taking all the actions it recommends would cost about $5.6 million.

The King Farm was once the largest farm in the area, but much of it has been developed into homes, parks, stores and offices. Today, only eight buildings on 7 acres remain of the original farm.

The farmstead park was given to Rockville in the late 1990s and was designated as historic by the city in 2006.

The agreement that gave the farm to the city requires that it must be used as a neighborhood park and site for recreational activity for the public.

Despite its current state, the site has been the center of much interest from various groups.

Suggestions have included making the farm an educational and child care facility, a site for the city’s ballet program or a wedding venue, according to a city staff memo.

The city has fielded requests or inquiries about the site’s use from the Rockville Science Center, National Capital Radio and Television Museum, and the Kid Museum.

The report by the firm of Wheeler, Goodman, Masek Architects & Interiors recommends that all or parts of some of the buildings on the farmstead should be demolished and rebuilt, while others can be renovated.

One of the dairy barns has “some urgent structural items” that must be addressed immediately, according to the report, while the hay barn should be razed, with efforts made to save as much of the building’s materials as possible in case it’s ever rebuilt.

The additions to a tenant house should be demolished, but the original part of the house should be renovated, the report said.

Meanwhile, the property’s main house and garage are in relatively good shape and have no urgent structural problems.

While the preliminary steps are being taken, the city should also ask staff to look at what state and federal grants are available to help fund renovations, along with the possibilities of partnerships with private entities, Councilwoman Beryl Feinberg said Monday.

Councilwoman Virginia Onley said the preliminary steps are a good start, and agreed that the city should look at coming up with funding to renovate the farmstead.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” she said.

rmarshall@gazette.net