Harbour House delay irks city officials Housing director draws criticism ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

January 14, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Three months after Annapolis housing officials moved tenants to begin the second phase of a highly touted $8 million renovation, the battered buildings at Harbour House remain boarded up.

Tenants were scheduled to move back at the end of this month, but construction has stopped over a dispute with the contractor and the discovery of several building code violations.

Yesterday, several Annapolis Housing Authority commissioners questioned the delay and requested a tour of the buildings. The tour has been set for tomorrow.

"We are concerned about the disservice that's being done to residents who had been told they would be able to reoccupy these buildings," said Marita Carroll, chairman of the five-member supervisory board.

Even though the buildings look deserted from the outside, housing authority Executive Director Harold S. Greene said appearances are deceiving. Inside, city inspectors are examining the apartments and engineers are installing power lines, he said.

"This was totally unexpected," Mr. Greene said about the building code violations found by city inspectors.

But board member J. Walter Sterling, who has been critical of Mr. Greene's management of the city's 10 public housing projects, said contractor R. J. Croley told him no construction had been done in a month.

"It sounds to me like a very bad situation at the moment," he said.

In an interview earlier yesterday, Mr. Greene called questions about the delay symptomatic of criticism leveled at his administration of the 1,100 subsidized apartments citywide. Minor problems, he said, have been "blown totally out of proportion."

Mr. Greene's critics acknowledge that he has worked hard over the past four years to improve the agency, after its former director went to prison for fraud, racketeering and bribery. But they say the legacy of ex-director Arthur Strissel Jr., who devised a system of bid-rigging and kickbacks, has caused them to scrutinize even small problems.

"This has been a scandal-ridden public housing authority in the past," Mr. Sterling said. He said he "no longer trusts" Mr. Greene.

Mr. Sterling has raised concerns about construction change orders costing thousands of dollars and the administration of a $250,000 drug grant. Other city officials and volunteers question why the authority has failed to pay a children's club and start a drug treatment program more than a year after receiving the grant.

Yesterday, the commissioners approved a resolution to pay the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club an overdue $50,000 for their program in the Annapolis Gardens community. The club began recreation and homework tutoring programs in September, but has not received any money.

Several residents who attended the meeting yesterday applauded the action. Roger W. "Pip" Moyer, deputy director of the authority, said the club has been an instant hit with children in the neighborhood.

The commissioners also discussed advertising requests for proposals to begin a drug counseling program. The agency wanted to hire two counselors, but later decided it only needed one, because a staff member has been serving as a counselor at Harbour House.

Much of the drug grant, Mr. Greene said, has been used to pay for a model police program at Harbour House. Two city police officers work regularly out of a converted basement apartment, walking beats in the neighborhood, checking up on the residents and even helping children with homework.

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