State wants to give ship to nonprofit

Move to save tax dollars, aid private fundraising

April 21, 2010|By Frank Roylance, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland's Department of Transportation asked the Board of Public Works on Wednesday to declare the state's goodwill ship Pride of Baltimore II to be "surplus property" so ownership can be transferred to the private nonprofit group that has operated the vessel since 1988.

"We are confident that our organization is well-positioned to carry on that mission independently, and will continue to raise revenue for operations and success," said Linda Christenson, executive director of Pride of Baltimore Inc.

The state paid $1 for title to the Pride II in 1989, after contributing $1 million in public funds toward the $4.5 million it cost to build the Baltimore clipper. In 2007, then-Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari announced the state could no longer afford to pay the $164,000 annual subsidy for the ship.

Officials at Pride Inc. have been seeking the ship's title since then, contending that the public perception of state ownership has hindered private fundraising efforts. They said the title transfer would not change the ship's missions of public education and promotion of business development for the state.

The transfer will require approvals by the Board of Public Works and the General Assembly. Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Port Administration, said there would be a 45-day waiting period before the Board of Public Works may consider a transfer request.

The topsail schooner was launched in 1988, two years after the original Pride of Baltimore and four members of the crew were lost at sea in a white squall north of Puerto Rico.

Pride II has sailed nearly 200,000 miles and visited 200 ports in 40 countries in North, South and Central America, Europe and Asia, according to Pride of Baltimore Inc.

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