Former academy boss hired as adviser on Taylor center...

ARUNDEL DIGEST

March 14, 2001|By From staff reports

Former academy boss hired as adviser on Taylor center

County Executive Janet S. Owens has hired a former Naval Academy superintendent to help transform the former David Taylor Research Center into a privately owned, high-technology office and research complex.

Retired Adm. Charles R. Larson will serve as Owens' adviser on redevelopment of the former naval research station across the Severn River from the academy. His first task is to help negotiate transfer of the 46.5-acre site from the Navy to the county and then to a developer.

Owens praised Larson's "impeccable integrity and keen understanding of the highest levels of government." She said his advice - which will cost the county $200 an hour, to a maximum of $20,000 - will be "invaluable" as the county negotiates with the Navy.

Talks have been thorny, and Owens has expressed frustration with the Navy. One issue is whether to carve the site into lots before the transfer, something the county wants.

The developer, Annapolis Partners, says it will invest $250 million over the next decade and create up to 1,958 jobs. The project has brought strong criticism, and a lawsuit, from neighbors who are worried about traffic congestion.

County's bookkeeping getting better, audit shows

The county's bookkeeping continues to fall short in many areas, but Anne Arundel Comptroller William R. Brown has made strides since being hired in September, according to a recent audit of county finances.

Among the continuing problems: transactions that were not recorded in the county's general ledger, and bank accounts that were not balanced properly.

Last year's audit flagged similar flaws, including an apparent $11 million discrepancy in purchasing accounts, later attributed to human error.

But auditors sounded an optimistic tone in their March 8 letter to County Executive Janet S. Owens and the County Council.

"Management has taken aggressive action to correct the deficiencies noted," said the joint letter by Arthur Andersen LLP and County Auditor Teresa Sutherland, who works for the council.

The letter praised Owens and the council for splitting the Office of Budget and Finance into separate departments in May.

The audit covered the fiscal year running from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2000.

Boatel owners sued for damages from fire

Allstate Insurance Co. and 23 boat owners it covered have filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Pasadena Boatel and Beach Club, seeking $500,000 in damages from a July fire that destroyed about 100 boats.

The suit, filed last week in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, names as defendants general partners Thomas C. Miller and Allen G. Tenneson, and claims that their boatel did not return the boats, constituting a breach of contract.

The suit also claims a breach of bailment agreement, for not returning the boats in the same condition, and negligence for alleged failure to ensure that the property was not damaged by fire.

"We have a good faith belief that the boatel was not acting appropriately storing the boats and doing certain things that may have prevented this loss or at least mitigated the damages," said Charles J. Fratus, a lawyer representing the boat owners and Allstate.

Tenneson declined to comment on the suit; Miller could not be reached for comment.

Damage from the July 20 fire has been estimated at $2 million.

Residents reject mediation in Damascus House dispute

Brooklyn Park residents have voted against the use of mediation in a dispute over a residential drug-treatment center's plan to expand.

Members of the Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association overwhelmingly rejected overtures from Damascus House on Monday night to mediate a dispute over the 17-bed treatment facility's plan to expand. The group also voted against the facility's proposal to add a 15-bed facility on a nearby property and two transitional houses.

Elected officials had hoped the tide was turning in the fight when association President Virginia Eidinger and several neighbors indicated they were receptive to mediation at a recent meeting in Annapolis. But sentiment changed after the treatment center's board voted last week to pursue the expansion - with community input.

Though the vote was widely anticipated and considered a formality, it angered neighbors.

Councilwoman Pamela G. Beidle, a Linthicum Democrat who represents the area, pointed out that the vote is not binding, and Damascus House can still pursue its expansion.

"This," she said, "doesn't end anything."

Man pleads guilty to sexual assault charges

An Annapolis man pleaded guilty yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to four counts of second-degree rape in the sexual assault on four youngsters, some of whom were in the care of his elderly relative.

Bruce Dewayne Coates, 28, is scheduled to be sentenced May 23. Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling said she plans to seek a 40-year prison term, plus a 10-year suspended sentence.

The sexual assaults occurred over about nine years, with the victims between the ages of 6 and 8.

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