Your Public Radio > WYPR Archive
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are now viewing the WYPR Archive of content news. For the latest from WYPR, visit www.wypr.org.
Maryland

Stokes Agrees With Mayor On Garage Sale Bill Hearing…Sort Of

  Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes agrees with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake that her bill to sell four city-owned downtown parking garages deserves a hearing.  However, he is not sold on her plan.

“We should have a conversation about it,” said Stokes, who is skeptical that the sale proceeds will go towards recreation centers, as the mayor is proposing.

“This bill is not about rec centers,” he added, “The mayor has tied it to rec centers for political speak.”

Last August, the mayor proposed selling four parking garages -- 11 S. Eutaw St., 22 S. Gay St., 101 S. Paca St. and 210 St. Paul Pl. – with the money going towards recreation centers.  Financial analysts say the city could get between $40 million to $60 million for all four garages, save money on operating expenses and generate tax revenue from the private owners.

Stokes, who chairs the committee that will hear the bill, has his own questions about the mayor’s plan.

“Why not keep the garages and use the proceeds currently that we derive from the lease and give that to rec and parks now...forever,” he asked, “as opposed to saying we're going to have a one-time sale."

The bill has yet to be scheduled for a hearing before the council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee.

The mayor called for a hearing on her bill during her State of the City address March 9. 

After the speech, City Council President Jack Young said the bill won’t move forward until the mayor resolves "things" they discussed.

The “things” Young referred to are two “super rec” centers, similar to the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Va., that he wants built.  Young does not have any specific locations in mind, but he wants one for the east side and one for the west side.

Young argues that the “super recs” can be an economic benefit to the city by attracting major sports conventions.

"I go to sports conventions that's in other cities and it's really a generator for those cities; the hotels the restaurants and we can do the same thing in Baltimore City," Young said. The “super recs” can be self-sustaining, he said, because the city could charge fees for services. City residents are already paying fees for recreation services in Baltimore County.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake says people she talks to don’t want “super rec” centers.

"I'm following what the community said very clearly; that they wanted more of the larger rec centers that we are putting in like the one in Morrell Park; like the expanded Rita Church Center; like the one we're going to break ground in Cherry Hill and Cahill this year," she said.

The mayor added she appreciates Young’s plan, but said both plans should be discussed publicly.

Stokes says the mayor’s bill should be heard but it should not be tied to recreation centers.

“It should be separate matters, frankly,” he said.

The bill proposed by Rawlings-Blake does not say the money will go toward city recreation centers.  The money would go to the general fund and the mayor would have to direct it to recreation centers.

Because of that, Stokes is suspicious of the mayor’s plan.

"We can pass this bill, the garages can be sold and that's the end of the money," he adds.