Conference panel considers 2 sites

January 27, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Members of a committee that will select a site for an Annapolis conference center told a town meeting last night that they have narrowed the field to two, and should reach a decision by next week in order to seek $1.5 million for design and engineering costs.

Tom Negri, committee chairman, listened as many of the approximately 25 residents of Admiral Heights, Germantown-Homewood and West Annapolis who attended the meeting at Germantown Elementary School told him they wanted both possible sites to be studied in depth.

"This is not Salisbury . . . or Oakland. This is Annapolis, . . . the state capital," said Rod Tomlinson, president of the Wardour Improvement Association. He urged close study of both sites to achieve the best decision.

The proposed sites for the $25 million center are the 11-acre Menke-Phipps tract at Taylor Avenue and West Street in Annapolis, owned by Fred Menke and Lousi Phipps, and a 28-acre parcel owned by the Anne Arundel Medical Center on the south side of Jennifer Road.

A third site, a 35-acre tract along West Street between Riva Road and Route 2 in Parole, was dropped from consideration last week after two of the landowners, Mellon Bank and Hardee's restaurant, told the committee they refuse to sell.

At the meeting, Mr. Negri said the committee has been told that state, county and city governments will not provide funding for further study of the proposed convention center until a site has been selected.

"Trust me, this committee doesn't want to go forward with just one site," he said. "Let me tell you, it would be a lot of sweat off my back."

Mr. Negri said the decision has to be made soon to request the funding because state, county and city governments are now putting together their budgets for the next fiscal year. The committee will formally request the money in the next month or so, he said.

Michael Malinoff, a member of the committee and Annapolis city administrator, said that the panel is seeking a definitive ruling from state officials as to whether the convention center proposal will be considered only if the possible sites have been narrowed to one.

Some residents complained about what they perceived as bias, especially among Annapolis officials, toward the Menke-Phipps site.

"That's the perception out there that's quite annoying to the committee. We've asked the same questions, gotten the same answers in different formats," Mr. Negri said. "Right now, these two sites are on a perfectly even keel with the committee."

Cynthia L. Eckard of Homewood questioned the accuracy of a feasibility study's estimate of the amount conventioneers will spend in the community, including local transportation and entertainment. The study estimates convention delegates will spend $4.5 million a year, but she said that in a 1991 economic analysis of convention business in the county, delegates spent only a total of $2.6 million.

"These numbers are suspect," she said.

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