Walk-A-Thon hopes to return to Baltimore in 1994 Lack of time cited for shift this year BALTIMORE CITY

January 28, 1993|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

Baltimore's popular March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon is banished to the suburbs for 1993, but organizers said yesterday they would like to bring the event back to the city in 1994.

"We just had no time to go through the city's process this year," said Lucy Ritter Skeen, executive director of the March of Dimes of Central Maryland. "But we hope to sit down and see if we can do one in 1994."

Organizers said they were taking the walk out of the city this year because of new fees that they said would erase much of the fund-raiser's expected profit if it were to remain in the city.

They estimated that the city would charge $100,000 in fees for the event -- an assertion hotly disputed by city officials who said that the cost would be much less. City officials also said the March of Dimes never formally applied to hold the march in Baltimore, and, consequently, had no way of knowing how much they would be charged.

"[Our] committee did as much research as they could," Ms. Skeen said. "The figure we used was the best estimate they could come up with."

The decision by the March of Dimes stripped the city of an event that for the past 22 years brought together as many as 30,000 people and was hailed as one of the most successful Walk-A-Thons in the country.

This year's walk, set for April 25, will be held on a 15-mile route that begins at White Marsh Mall and winds its way to Essex Community College in Baltimore County. Simultaneous March of Dimes walks will be held in Anne Arundel, Carroll, Howard and Harford counties.

Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, said he plans to introduce a resolution at the City Council meeting next Monday urging the mayor to establish a five-member committee -- including both city and community members -- to establish guidelines to set fees for special events.

The new fee system that went into effect this month was pushed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who said the city can no longer afford to provide free police and sanitation services for festivals and other special events.

Mr. Ambridge and others say the fees could bring an end to many of the hundreds of festivals and other special events held in the city each year.

"We can't just look at the dollar cost of the events to the city," Mr. Ambridge said. "We also have to look at the benefit to the city. I think the fees are onerous and counterproductive."

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