Renewal proposed for historic site Center would help addicted mothers ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

January 26, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

A Washington-based company would like to blend urban renewal with human renewal in turning a historic Annapolis building into an innovative residential treatment and schooling center for drug-addicted young mothers.

The proposal, which will be pitched to the City Council and other elected officials Wednesday, would renovate one of two sites of importance to the area's black community: the Wiley H. Bates High School or the Stanton Community Center.

Organizers say the project would be accomplished with little financial commitment from the city. Instead, a public-private partnership would use federal tax credits and grants for the renovation, then other grant money for drug treatment, vocational studies and counseling.

Joseph Johnson, chairman of Johnson & Associates Inc. and the man who put together the package, said his 5-year-old lobbying firm, which has represented health care, telecommunications and other interests, has at least two other companies working with it.

First, a building would be renovated into apartments for single mothers and their children, with day-care provided on the premises. Programs would include drug treatment, job training and "the basics of developing a functional family," Mr. Johnson said.

The idea has piqued the interest of Emily Wimbush-Green, the city's director of Community Services and Substance Abuse, who views it as a "benefit to the community as a whole."

Not everyone is pleased with the idea, however. That includes the Bates Foundation, which has a different view of what ought to go in the building, which until 1966 was the only public high school for blacks in Anne Arundel County. The non-profit foundation is trying to come up with a plan that would both preserve the building and make it an integral part of the community.

"That would not be consistent with what we have proposed for Bates -- a multi-service community center," foundation President Jean Creek said. "We want the whole community to get use of the building."

Ward 5 Alderman Carl Snowden said Mr. Johnson's concept is intriguing because it could address two situations, renovating a site steeped in black history and helping unskilled drug addicts become productive members of their community.

However, he stressed, for now, "all the city is doing is listening."

Whichever building would be used would have to be donated to the partnership to make the financial side work, but would be deeded back to local government after 20 years, Mr. Johnson said.

The city probably would have to subsidize leases for the women living there, but exact amounts and whether that too would be paid for through a federal or state grant is unknown, he said.

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