As opposition mounts against plans to incorporate a 19th century waterman's home into the proposed National Sailing Hall of Fame, an Annapolis alderman is suggesting that the city offer as an alternative site a long-term lease of its soon-to-be-shuttered recreation center.
The building at 9 St. Mary's St., which will be available once a new recreation complex opens next year in Truxtun Park, is at the intersection with Compromise Street, near Spa Creek. Alderman Richard E. Israel said it would be more suitable for the museum than the Capt. William H. Burtis House on Prince George Street.
"I simply offered it in the spirit of compromise," said Israel, a Democrat who represents downtown. "What I'm trying to suggest to them is they need a plan B. And all they have right now is a plan A. And they seem to be saying, `It's plan A or we're going to lose it to another location.' And what I'm trying to tell them is that when you're dealing with the state of Maryland, you better have a plan B."
Ray Weaver, a spokesman for Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who supports the museum's planned site at the Burtis home, said talk of another location is untimely.
"It would be nice for the National Sailing Hall of Fame to actually be on the water," Weaver said. "At this point, it might be premature to start looking at other locations when we haven't finished the first process yet."
National Sailing Hall of Fame board member and Olympic sailor-turned-ESPN-commentator Gary Jobson said the group examined and rejected the recreation center location, along with several other sites in the city, during the group's search process almost two years ago. The organizers like the Burtis house site, which until recently housed a satellite office for the Department of Natural Resources Police, because it's on the water, Jobson said.
"What it does, it provides sort of a double gateway ... so I think the DNR building is a miracle piece of property," he said. "And that's what got everybody so enthused and energized to have it there."
Ground will be broken on the new recreation center -- to be named in honor of former mayor Roger "Pip" Moyer -- by the end of the summer, said LeeAnn Plumer, director of the city Department of Recreation and Parks. The $13 million project is expected to be completed about 12 to 15 months from then, she said.
Plans for the interactive museum have centered on the state-owned site of the modest Burtis house, which the Maryland Stadium Authority suggested in a December report would need to be demolished or moved.
That has raised the ire of some preservationists and residents, who view that as an affront on the city's prized historic district. Burtis was a founding member of the Oyster Navy, patrolling the bay to enforce waterway laws. It later became the Natural Resources Police.
Descendants of Burtis recently formed a nonprofit hopes of restoring the home, which has flooded in the past, but retains much of its original structure.
The Maryland Historical Trust and the Annapolis Historic Foundation have said they support the project, but favor protecting the integrity of the home.
State officials are still considering granting the hall of fame a lease for the waterfront home.
Lee Tawney, executive director of the hall of fame, said he wants to incorporate "the history of the house" into the project.
"We're keen to make this work in Annapolis," Tawney said.