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Expected Revenue Authority Grant to Community In Limbo

Parkville community leaders were promised $100,000 from the sale of the Lavender lot.

A promised $100,000 grant to the Parkville community from the sale of the Lavender Avenue parking lot could be in limbo.

Members of the board of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority discussed possible changes to to the deal during a meeting Thursday.

Among the possibilities is a proposal to allow communities from all over the county to apply for a portion of the money or to have the authority spend the money on behalf of the Parkville community rather than handing the money over to one or more civic groups.

The board is also considering the creation of a committee to create a process for handing out the grants and oversee the spending of the money from the sale of the 56-space public parking lot and other lots that might be sold in the future.

"Any money that we give out, anybody in the county has a right to it. It belongs to everybody—as much to Parkville as it does Pikesville because we're all one big county—and we should look at a way to distribute any monies that we decide will be distributed," said Gordon Harden, a member of the board and a Towson resident. "I think we ought to take a look at how we do it and possibly set up a grant procedure where anyone can apply."

Harden said the money should be used to help keep up areas around properties that the authority owns.

"One example is that Towson doesn't have anyone to clean the streets any longer because that was funded by a grant to the [Towson] Chamber of Commerce and the grant was dropped by the county," said Harden, whose wife owns Souris' Saloon near the Towson traffic circle.

The authority, a quasi-government agency that oversees metered parking spaces and surface lots around the county as well as four parking garages in Towson and five public golf courses, is expected to sell the Lavender Avenue lot to Towson-based DMS Development for $500,000. The developer plans to build a Walgreens Pharmacy on the property.

The sale is contingent upon the authority purchasing a two-tenths of an acre parcel owned by the state that was once part of a bus loop. The state Board of Public Works is expected to take up the sale of the property to the authority at its Oct. 31 meeting. The state and authority have reached an agreement to

The sale is opposed by a number of community leaders who believe the loss of parking will damage attempts to revitalize the downtown commercial district along Harford Road.

The grant to an organization or group of organizations would be the first of its kind for the Revenue Authority.

"We made representations to members of the community that we would attempt to put some money back into the community," said Donald Hutchinson, chairman of the board. "We have to reconsider and have a conversation about this and Gordon has started that conversation about what that means and what it will entail."

Hutchinson and Merreen Kelly are the only two remaining board members who voted nearly two years ago on the sale and the donation of a portion of the proceeds to the Parkville community.

Kelly said he didn't object to the formation of a committee to look at how money might be spent in communities in the future but said a portion of the proceeds from the Lavender lot sale was earmarked for Parkville.

"We sat here as a board and committed that we would give approximately $100,000 back to Parkville specifically," said Kelly. "We said that many many times during the process. We said that in front of community members we said that in front of the state legislature so I don't see us cutting this particular pie into any kind of pieces for other communities. We're on the record, and if you go back and look at the minutes, that we would give this money to Parkville."

Kelly said the board does need "to define where is Parkville in terms of is it the business community or is it a community organization. We have not determined that but I'd be very uncomfortable in terms of any attempt to cut up this pie other than directly to Parkville."

Hutchinson said the board needs to figure out if they can define "an appropriate organization or group of organizations."

The alternative, Hutchinson said, is that the board could "take the initiative to spend the money ourselves back into the community.

"There's a lot of different ways we can do it." said Hutchinson said. "I think what Gordon has suggested is that this gets a little more complicated. This is not going to be the last transaction of this type by the Revenue Authority. While we don't have any pending sales of property, that's not to say that next Friday there won't be an opportunity that will come to us."

Patricia Novak October 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM
reining rather than raining.
Delegate John Cluster October 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I stand corrected...Thank you
Carol Szaroleta October 26, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I completely support the reigning in of the Revenue Authority....they don't seem to be accountable to anyone.
JDStuts October 27, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Comment Of The Day award right there. But maybe Harden has a point. Instead of applying for grants let's just split the pot among every single taxpayer in the county. Same goes for the revenue from the speed cameras and every other traffic stop. In fact, let's break down services used to the micro level. No kids? No school taxes. Eff this guy.
John L. October 27, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Del Cluster is correct in that they say one thing and do another which is the norm. The Parkville Business District will suffer wth the bus loop gone and who needs another Walgreens anyway? Parkville deserves & needs any money dervived from the sale of this property.

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