Despite grumbling from the city comptroller and the council president, the Board of Estimates yesterday agreed to pay $360,000 for 10 electronic message signs on streets leading to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The board voted three to two to award the contract to Priceless Industries Inc. The signs will inform motorists about traffic jams and the parking situation at the new state-financed stadium, which is scheduled to open April 1.
Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean complained about the "gentlemen's agreement" between the state and the city that required the city to pay for the signs.
She also said the city should have acted earlier to try to get a cheaper price on the signs.
Council President Mary Pat Clarke told the other board members, "I am not a happy camper around this issue. I'd rather see the money going to traffic [police] officers. We're going to have to rely on them in the end anyway."
Frederick Marc, the city's assistant commissioner for transportation, told the board the signs are needed to keep traffic moving around the stadium. The signs will be especially beneficial to nearby residents who'd like to see baseball traffic move through the area quickly, he said.
Mrs. Clarke joined Mrs. McLean in a protest against spending city money for a state project. Mrs. Clarke said the expenditure for the signs comes "at a time when our money has been so drastically cut by the state."
But both women were out-voted by the three other members of the board -- Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Public Works Director George G. Balog and City Solicitor Neal M. Janey.
Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. McLean objected to the signs during a briefing at last week's board meeting. Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. McLean said the stadium authority should pay for its signs.