Board approves manager for Little Italy garage

First, two activists have their say on bidders

February 17, 2000|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

It would seem that residents of Little Italy might be relieved at the Board of Estimates' decision yesterday to get the long-awaited parking garage in their community fully open for business.

But the parking garage, which has been criticized for cost overruns, ran into another snag before the board yesterday: Two of Little Italy's most prominent activists went toe-to-toe over which company should operate the garage.

Roberto Marsili, president of the Little Italy Community Organization, and Gia Blattermann, a board member of the Little Italy Owners and Residents Association, each had a company of choice.

At times it appeared that the dispute was more about personalities than about the two companies the board was considering for management of the parking garage at Central Avenue and Bank Street. The structure is much needed in Little Italy, a popular restaurant district where scant off-street parking has worsened traffic congestion.

Marsili wanted Maryland Parking Limited Partnership, a firm run by Washington parking magnate Kingdon Gould Jr. and construction company owner Roger Blunt. But the company, the lowest bidder for a contract that will pay $322,000 a year, did not properly answer all of the questions in the application.

Marsili, who has criticized the board for not following city regulations when awarding contracts, called rejection of Maryland Parking's bid "nitpicking" by the city and urged the board to give the company the contract anyway.

"They have a lot of experience," Marsili told the board. "We have a good working relationship. Sometimes we've got to take some unique measures" in awarding contracts.

Then it got personal, as it sometimes does between Marsili and Blattermann.

"Part of this man's whole persona is nitpicking," Blattermann said of Marsili. "I just want this board to please be fair. We want our community in harmony."

Marsili never had a chance to respond. Before the dispute could get out of hand, City Council President Sheila Dixon said, "Do I have a motion?"

In a unanimous vote, the board backed PMS Parking of Baltimore.

Blunt said he did not mind losing the contract because his company did not submit the proper proposal.

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