Charities to pay for parking

Naval Academy policy charges for stadium lots used for fundraisers

December 29, 2006|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,sun reporter

Charities using the parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis are going to have a work a little harder at fundraising.

The Maryland chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are among the nonprofits to get a bill for allowing charity walk participants to park in the stadium's lot.

The decision reflects the Naval Academy Athletic Association's new policy that went into effect this year charging vehicles $5 a day to park.

The MS Society, which plans to book the stadium for its walk in April, will have to pay about $2,500, because they expect about 1,200 participants and 500 vehicles. In April, the event - which runs from the stadium to City Dock and back - raised more than $150,000 for multiple sclerosis research and advocacy, as well as services to support for more than 5,000 Marylanders who have the crippling autoimmune disease.

A Naval Academy official familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly said the decision to charge a charity is "disgraceful."

"These people are raising money to take care of people with MS and for research," he said. "It's a charity, so I think the academy should let them use it for free."

Amanda Culler, a spokeswoman from the MS Society's Maryland chapter, said it hopes the academy will allow participants in the annual event to park for free, as they have in the past.

"We've always had a great partnership with the academy," she said. "They enjoyed having our walk there, we enjoyed having our walk there, and we're hopeful that the issue is going to be resolved."

Jim Purdy, who owns and operates Pinnacle Parking, an Annapolis-based company contracted by the association to manage the stadium lot, said there are no plans to allow free parking for the event, since the new policy applies to all groups who use the lot for events.

"The athletic association is a private, non-profit organization and that's the reason why they decided to start charging for parking," he said. "Purdy said many other non-profits and charities this year have paid for participants in their events to use the lot, and that $5 a day is cheap by almost any standard.

Scott Strassmeier, a spokesman for the athletic association, said he had no comment beyond Purdy's explanation.

Lauren Banaszewski, a special events coordinator for the Maryland chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said Pinnacle Parking billed them for $1,860 for their Oct. 22 charity walk, which raised $130,000 for research.

"Next year, we will probably seek a parking sponsor, such as a local car dealership, so those funds will go to research," she said.bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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