Planning panel adopts capital budget

March 05, 1995|By Harold Jackson | Harold Jackson,Sun Staff Writer

Transforming the Fishmarket nightclub complex into a

children's museum will cost $21 million, but city planners said most of the renovations would be financed with private funds.

The overhaul is among the projects included in the six-year, $1.2 billion capital improvements budget adopted Thursday by the Planning Commission. The budget proposes spending $223 million in the fiscal year that begins in July, about $5 million less than is being spent on construction and renovation projects in the current budget year.

Preparation of the budget, which now goes to the Board of Estimates for approval, began last October with city departments requesting $294 million for projects in the forthcoming fiscal year. Planning Director Charles Graves said that despite the reduced figure, Baltimore will be "providing and maintaining those facilities vital to the strength of our city." Israel Patoka, a city planner, said the Fishmarket would have to be almost completely overhauled to serve as a children's museum.

But he said most of the $21 million cost should be covered by private funds. For example, the proposed museum is already scheduled to receive a $3 million grant from Nationsbank.

The state is also expected to contribute a small portion of the cost.

Last month, the city agreed to spend $2.4 million to buy the Fishmarket from a local partnership. Plans are for the city to negotiate a long-term lease with the children's museum for use of the property.

The downtown museum will replace the now-closed Children's Museum at the Cloisters in Brooklandville. The new facility is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors annually and anchor a $30 million National Children's Center. The nearby Brokerage complex, which is mostly vacant, would include shops catering to children and offices for children's advocacy groups, pediatricians and a day care center.

Other major expenditures in the city's 1996 capital improvements budget include $14.6 million for a new communications system for the police, fire and public works departments, and $6.3 million to complete repairs to the Pier 6 bulkhead in the Inner Harbor.

Several schools are targeted for renovation, including Cross Country Elementary, A. J. Brown Middle, Ashburton Elementary, Northeast Middle and the Carver High School science lab. School construction costs in the city used to average about $3 million a year, but are beginning to range from $8 million to $12 million annually, Mr. Patoka said.

He said the city will tap a variety of sources to pay for all the construction projects next fiscal year, including $57 million from taxes; $45.9 million from private foundations, county grants and other sources; $34.9 from federal agencies; $24.8 million from the bond issue approved by voters last November; $22.3 million from state agencies; $18.5 million from revenue loans; $14.6 million from other debt funds; $3.8 million from utility funds and $1 million from the general fund.

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