Calvert School payment on table

Apartment tenants, attorney to review compensation terms

May 05, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Calvert School officials, intent on sealing a sensitive deal with the residents of apartments at 4300 N. Charles St. by Monday, say they hope a morning meeting today will finalize the terms of the tenants' departure and compensation for displacement from their North Baltimore homes.

The compensation package on the bargaining table stipulates that all residents leave their homes by the end of August and involves a lump sum of about $500,000 to be divided equally among the 58 units occupied as of March 1, both sides said.

Residents estimated that, after legal fees, each unit would receive enough to cover moving expenses - $6,000 or more. The Calvert School acquired the apartments eight months ago and is moving ahead with plans to clear the site in the fall.

"We don't have a deal yet. ... Hopefully it'll be done by Monday morning. But everyone has to endorse this," Alfred W. Barry III, a representative of the Calvert School, said yesterday.

A private elementary and correspondence school, Calvert plans to add seventh and eighth grades and two playing fields to its Tuscany-Canterbury campus. The proposed expansion calls for demolishing the apartment buildings, which has led to an outcry from residents and others in the community.

School officials said they would like to present a completed compensation deal to the city planning commission when Calvert seeks design approval for its expansion at a June 7 meeting. But without that approval, they say, the compensation deal is off.

"We just want their signatures," Barry said, underscoring the school's need for every resident to sign off, with no exceptions.

A group from the garden apartment complex is expected to meet with their attorney, John Murphy, today to review the document and decide whether to accept the agreement, which includes a strict confidentiality clause.

When Calvert School made its expansion plans public, it quickly became clear that the neighboring property landscaped on 6 sloping acres would have to be demolished. Signs opposing Calvert and pickets became a common sight in North Baltimore neighborhoods.

"I never carried a sign on a picket line until I was 67," said Jack S. Kerns Jr., a retired printing manufacturer. "It was a true lesson in democracy."

Kerns, one of the residents who plans to meet with Murphy today, said his side has had little time - less than a week - to review the compensation terms.

"We won't be pushed into this," he said in an interview Thursday.

Mayor Martin O'Malley had advised the school's board of trustees to settle the matter with compensation instead of siding with City Council members who introduced legislation to give the city jurisdiction over this dispute.

Many residents are preparing to move. Kerns is heading for the county, as is Anne Boucher, an artist and widow. "This is unique. I haven't been able to find anything like this," Boucher said.

Anna Dopkin, 33, a T. Rowe Price employee, loaded the last of her things into a moving van yesterday, saying good-bye to some elderly neighbors and "giving ... final hugs." Noting the side entrances for residents in wheelchairs, she said, "Not a single person thought they'd have to move. There's nothing equivalent."

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