State board approves $3.6 million purchase of Annapolis Elks property

March 10, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

The State Board of Public Works yesterday approved the purchase of the Annapolis Elks lodge and 6.9 acres on Rowe Boulevard for $3.6 million. The state plans to build a new Annapolis District Courthouse and multiple service complex on the site, which is across Taylor Avenue from the current district court.

"This is the first step in upgrading the judiciary facilities in Annapolis," said Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who is chairman of the Board of Public Works.

The state has been seeking additional court space for some time.

"The existing District Court facility in the Tawes Office Complex is inadequate for the court's needs," said General Services Secretary Martin W. Walsh Jr.

The state plans to solicit design proposals this summer, and it will be at least 2 1/2 years before a new facility is ready, said Dave Humphrey, a spokesman for the Department of General Services.

Preliminary plans call for a 75,673-square-foot complex that will include four district court rooms and offices for the public defender, parole and probation officers, the drunken driver monitor program and court administrators.

The 21,500-square-feet of space now occupied by the court would be converted into state administrative offices, Mr. Humphrey said.

The Elks, a fixture on Rowe Boulevard since 1960, have one year to leave the site.

The lodge is considering three sites outside of the city, and are waiting for appraisals before selecting one, said Vernon J. "Joe" Dorr, exalted ruler of the lodge.

The Elks had been looking to move for several years, and a Maryland Court of Appeals decision in January threatening their liquor license spurred them to act, he said.

The court upheld a 1990 Annapolis ordinance that prohibits private clubs with city liquor licenses from excluding members "on the basis of race, sex, religion, physical handicap or national origin."

The Elks national bylaws prohibit women members. The Annapolis lodge, which has not had a black member in its 90-year history, petitioned the national organization two years ago to allow women, but the request was denied.

Two of the potential lodge sites are on Route 2 south of Annapolis. The other site is on General's Highway near Sherwood Forest, Mr. Dorr said.

Mr. Dorr said the lodge hopes to make its selection within a month.

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