Bond package for city gets OK Voter approval sought in 1998 for 10 projects totaling $43 million

November 20, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke wants city voters next November to support $43 million in bonds that would in part pay for a police academy, a large library and a business park.

The 10 bond projects are the city's blueprint for development and illustrate what the Schmoke administration thinks are some of the most important capital outlays for Baltimore.

If approved by voters, the funds would be spent in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1999.

The Board of Estimates gave its approval yesterday for the $43 million in improvements and development -- a key step in a process that includes expected approval by the city delegation to the General Assembly and the City Council.

"This is a pretty good indication of what the city will do," said Ronald Peele, spokesman for Planning Department Director Charles C. Graves III.

The city wants voters to approve $3 million in seed money for a police academy expansion on the Coppin State College campus in West Baltimore. It would supplement the academy downtown.

The building would occupy some of the campus' unused acreage and would have a police driving course and firearms, academic and physical training sites. The plan is to have some Coppin professors teach courses.

"If this goes up for a vote next year, I can see the building put up as early as the year 2000," said Robert H. Greene, acting director of education and training for the Police Department.

Greene said the cost of the project would be $8 million to $10 million. He said the department is studying ways it can raise the rest of the money.

A $3 million bond issue would go toward the cost of the first of four planned "superbranch" libraries. In July, the Enoch Pratt Free Library announced a multimillion-dollar plan to build four regional library centers, one at a time in each quadrant of the city, within 25 years.

The first scheduled branch would be a 30,000-square-foot library in Southeast Baltimore. A site has not been approved.

A $1 million bond would also provide for extensive renovations to Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall downtown. Among the renovations: The audience chamber would be improved, the stage would be moved forward, the ceiling would be reconstructed and seating would be added.

Meyerhoff officials said they have scheduled more than $6 million in renovations. They hope to make up the $5 million gap with state and private grants.

The renovations, some of which began last summer, are expected to be done over three years.

"These renovations are indeed the first since [the Meyerhoff] opened in 1982," said Gregory Tucker, director of public relations.

Another project city voters will be asked to fund is a $1 million initiative to demolish and redevelop several vacant and underutilized sites in East Baltimore and create an industrial area.

"Our ambition is to develop a new business park along the lines of Holabird," said M. J. "Jay" Brodie, Baltimore Development Corp. president.

Other projects that would be funded include renovations to schools and cultural institutions, establishment of home loan programs and creation of laboratory space for biotechnology firms.

The $43 million bond proposal excludes several requests from city agencies, including a downtown parking garage, renovations to public plazas and exhibits for the Baltimore Zoo. But they could show up on future bond issues.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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