City will pay $407,500 to repair homes Development in Govans poorly built, says board

July 30, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Board of Estimates voted yesterday to spend $407,500 to repair 12 homes in the Wilson Park Terrace area of Govans -- but still failed to please homeowners who say they've waited years for help.

By a vote of 3-2, the five-member board limited the repairs to $32,000 for each of the dwellings, which residents and inspectors say was never properly weather-sealed.

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III chaired the meeting -- Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was on vacation -- where a half-dozen Govans residents expressed anger at the twists and turns in getting their homes fixed.

The city's Housing and Community Development Department awarded Citation Builders Inc. a contract to build the $1.16 million housing project for moderate-income residents in North Baltimore. The city said the project, completed three years ago, was shoddily constructed.

In April, city housing officials selected Baltimore-based Botech Inc. to repair the deficiencies, but later learned that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had excluded Botech from all federally funded projects.

"We're playing pingpong back and forth," said Regina Simpson, a homeowner in the project. "What contractor wants to fix someone else's mess?"

The board declined to issue the homeowners checks for $32,000 -- the estimated cost of the repairs -- based on City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson's recommendation.

If checks were issued to each homeowner, said Thompson, "there's no way to ensure the money is allocated to the repairs. We have to protect that [housing project] investment."

The board decided to allow homeowners to choose their own contractors, a way for the city to avoid liability claims, said the solicitor. Once repairs pass inspection, the city will pay the contractors, he said.

The homeowners left angry about the decision. Some said city Housing Director Daniel P. Henson III had led them to expect a $32,000 check to cover repairs.

"He's [Henson] been leading us for two years down the wrong path," said Linda McWayne, a nurse who bought her home for $95,000 three years ago. In the winter, she said, her house is "cold, wet, freezing."

In other business, the board approved a contract with Oregon-based American Bowling Corp. worth $642,400 to renovate a bowling alley in a city recreation center on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Sandtown neighborhood.

Company officials said they planned to complete the renovation in October.

"It's been a long fight getting the bowling alley up and running," said Brenda Rigby of the Sandtown neighborhood action group.

The board also approved a $200,000 loan to SourceOne LLC, a clothing manufacturing company, to acquire the former Jos. A. Bank clothier manufacturing facilities at North Avenue and Brook- hill Road. City officials said it would help keep 300 jobs in the area.

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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