Treat golf course same as stadiums that got state aid

November 02, 1996

AS MAYOR of Leonardtown, I was quite disturbed by your objections (Oct. 11, "Giveaway time in Annapolis?") to state aid for a proposed public golf course being discussed in our town.

My first objection is that it is not accurate to say, as you did, that Gov. Parris Glendening ''is encouraging the developer to pursue state aid.'' When Leonardtown officials and the developer, Mark Vogel, met with the governor to brief him on the project, he made no commitments. In his follow up letter to me, the governor did say the project is ''very exciting,'' but he also said, ''I cannot commit to support any state funding for the golf course at this time.''

The most the governor would say is that ''after the zoning and permitting processes are completed . . . I will be happy to review the project again and determine if any state funding . . . is available for the golf course.''

I would not call that ''encouraging the developer to pursue state aid.'' In fact, the governor has given us no reason to believe that he is inclined to provide state support for the project.

My second objection is that you think it's fine for the state to build a $200 million stadium in Baltimore and contribute tens of millions to another stadium in Prince George's County to house privately owned football teams because the projects are ''meant to spur economic vitality in areas that need more commercial growth,'' while calling it ''an outrage'' for the governor to even consider supporting a mere $3 million for a project that will do the same things for Leonardtown and St. Mary's County.

Finally, you fail to point out that any state funding for this project will not be given to Mr. Vogel but will go to a non-profit development authority established by the town of Leonardtown to build and manage the golf course.

It is true that merchants and property owners in Leonardtown will benefit from this arrangement. However, whenever the state makes a contribution to an economic development project, that is exactly what happens. Certainly business owners will benefit from the stadiums.

Except for the size of the projects, how is the public golf course proposed for Leonardtown different from the Baltimore Ravens' stadium that is under construction?

J. Harry Norris III

Leonardtown

Pub Date: 11/02/96

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