For a mayor besieged with gloomy budget news, an item that appeared before the Baltimore Board of Estimates yesterday must have seemed like the sun breaking through a heavy bank of clouds.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has been spending a lot of time these days agonizing over million-dollar cuts to the budget, announced that the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. will build a $400,000 clubhouse at the city's Clifton Park golf course.
And the corporation -- a non-profit organization that runs the city's four municipal golf courses under a no-cost, 15-year lease -- also intends to give the city $225,000 annually to help pay transportation costs for children in recreation programs who qualify for out-of-town sports tournaments.
All this, even though the mayor and corporation leaders were practically at each other's throats less than two months ago.
The tiff had cropped up when corporation leaders rejected appeals to share with the city an $800,000 surplus earned at the golf courses last year. Corporation officials said that the lease agreement did not call for any such sharing and that they planned to plow the money back into improvements.
But when corporation officials came to the city to ask permission to build a clubhouse at Clifton Park during the summer, Mr. Schmoke decided to hold up the project in the Board of Estimates, saying that it would need more study.
Since 1946, the Clifton Park clubhouse has been in the old Johns Hopkins House, a 19th-century mansion whose parlors, wine cellar and dining room were converted into locker rooms, a garage for golf carts, and a pro shop and snack bar.
But golf corporation officials say a new clubhouse is needed because the mansion's historic status precludes them from making needed renovations.
Yesterday, Mr. Schmoke announced that the golf corporation had agreed to funnel $225,000 into a fund that will be used help pay for transportation for children who qualify for sports tournaments outside of Baltimore.
The mayor also said he will try to amend the language of the fund agreement further to allow the money to be used for non-sports competitions, such as chess competitions.
"This is an important fund for our children," Mr. Schmoke said. "We're going to be able to help these winning kids."
Henry H. Miller, the golf corporation chairman, said the agreement does not represent a profit-sharing arrangement, however.
"We agreed we should be able to help out as the corporation has grown," Mr. Miller said. "It's not profit sharing. We're going to contribute to a fund."