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Citing Deed Clause, Dundalk Residents Ask for Delay on Govt. Center Vote

Sale opponents say the deed requires written permission from the State Board of Public Works before any portion of the land could be sold.

Baltimore County seal. patch file photo
Baltimore County seal. patch file photo
The Baltimore County Council is scheduled to vote tonight on contracts of sale for county-owned properties that Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz wants sold for private development.

But some Dundalk residents are asking for a delay of that vote, at least as it pertains to the North Point Government Center sale.

Members of Dundalk United, a grassroots organization formed early this year to fight the closure of Eastwood Elementary School as well as the government center sale, say a deed on the land forbids its sale or any portion of it without approval from the Maryland State Board of Public Works.

Letter co-writer Karen Cruz said today she has been told that county attorneys were looking into their claim that the Public Works board needs to agree to the sale, but had heard nothing beyond that.

Dundalk resident Bob Staab, the other co-writer of the Dundalk United letter, said today the deed's covenant is "absolutely" enough reason to postpone the council vote, at least as it pertains to the North Point property.

Baltimore County Council Legislative Counsel/Secretary Thomas J. Peddicord Jr. did not return a call asking for comment on the group's claim by publication time.

Below is the letter the organization sent to council members:

Members of the County Council,

We feel it is important to bring the following information to your attention BEFORE your scheduled vote on the proposal to sell the North Point Government Center park. Please review the October, 1981 deed in which the Board of Education transferred this property to Baltimore County government (liber 6408, page 342). On page 3 of this deed (next to last paragraph) you will note an express COVENANT that provides that  Baltimore County cannot convey this property or any portion of this property or any interest in this property without FIRST having received WRITTEN consent from the state BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS.

We are requesting that before voting on the sale of this property  that you confirm that the BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS has given the REQUIRED WRITTEN CONSENT called for in this deed.

In the event this required written approval has not been granted it is our position that the Council should not vote on this matter until the BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS provides the WRITTEN consent that is LEGALLY required. As Council approval on this proposed contract will convey certain legal rights (with attendant potential legal consequences) we feel it is essential and in the best interest of all citizens that this matter be clarified BEFORE a vote. 

Thank you for your consideration,

Bob Staab and Karen Cruz for Dundalk United

Editor's Note: The upper case emphasis used throughout the letter is that of the writers and not Patch editors.
Ashley Virginia December 02, 2013 at 08:57 PM
This isn't legal! They can't sell unless the board approves!
Ashley Virginia December 02, 2013 at 11:20 PM
DD, why do you have to start fights??? Just let it be and have a civil conversation without name calling. Who knows maybe you will learn something
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 08:53 AM
The county attorney hasn't even looked at it yet.
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 10:03 AM
The board still has to pass it. If she is it's because she wants to make sure that we have everything we need. Doesn't mean that she supports it. She wants to make sure we all get everything we need. Not just a multipurpose room with a stage on the end.
cary quintana December 03, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Matthew, interesting that she would do it that way instead of working with other local Dundalk citizens who have a background in Theater Design to plan for the communities needs when it comes to the new Rec center....
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Cary you do know tht Debbie has a degree in theatre and that her son graduated from TU with a degree in theatre as well. I have no doubt that she had spoke. In depth about what we need to him and had him draw up a list with all specs on it.
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 03:08 PM
I'm just saying she has probably already talked to her son about the theatre. Who knows. It was through the grapevine and may not be true. Also Vanguard may have reached out to all the program leaders about what they need to continue running their programs in each space. The community center will still be run by Baltimore county rec and parks. And will follow the same guidelines we have now, to my knowledge.
cary quintana December 03, 2013 at 03:27 PM
My point is that this is not a single persons theater. It is not a single production companies play house nor is it up to an individual to dictate who uses the space let alone how it is designed. I look forward to the public meetings where everyone with input can offer it, just as I look forward to it's completion and the availability of the space to anyone in the community who wishes to use it.
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Actually the building will have a person who will state how the building is to be used. That person will run the building. The purpose of the new facility is so that the current programs in the spaces can continue to run and not have to find new spaces to continue. The building will be used the same way the current building is used now. That's not going to change. If you want to direct something Cary you are more than welcome to use he amphitheater
Ashley Virginia December 03, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Someone may correct me if I am incorrect. But that is all to my knowledge.
Debbie Staigerwald December 03, 2013 at 04:17 PM
As of this point, I have not met with anyone from Vanguard. I hope to do so at some point soon. I will let everyone know what they say. Unfortunately, I believe that we will be getting a flat multipurpose space with a stage at one end of the room and folding chairs. The model will be similar to the Sollers Rec Center or the Randellstown Rec Center. I hope it will be big enough, but I am sure it will not be as large as what we have or a real theatre space. Our company has approximately 50 people in our shows and the local rec programs also use the space for dance recitals. If it is as small as Sollers, we will never fit. We have 650 seats in our theatre, we will probably have space for 300 in the new room. Anyone who is a non-profit or a local community group can use the space, you have to go through the local recreation staff. I am sure it will be the same and have the same rules. Everyone needs to come together and negotiate with the developer and the county government to make sure we get a theatre space that is as good as what we have now or better. We need rehearsal space, dressing rooms, practice rooms, backstage areas and storage. Lights, sound and curtains of course. I invite everyone to come together and help us in this quest and I look forward to a "united" effort for the betterment of our community. Please come out and see our wonderful production of "The Wizard of Oz" Dec. 6th and 7th at 7pm and Dec 8th at 3pm. See what we have now and help us fight for what we deserve.
cary quintana December 04, 2013 at 06:37 AM
Debbie, I do not share your pessimism with the inevitable new facility and I do hope you will fight for an appropriate facility as I will be. Also it is good that you recognize that the community center is for equal use of all community organizations. For a moment there it appeared that Ashley was describing an environment that had a history of favoring specific groups and only those anointed entities would find space available. Not only that it was the common practice but that it is one that was intended to be continued... that would be... unfortunate, don't you agree?
Ashley Virginia December 04, 2013 at 09:17 AM
What Debbie said is how the property is used now.... That's what I meant. She can just explain it ten times better than I can.
cary quintana December 04, 2013 at 09:45 AM
Of course.. Ummm out of curiosity, if her previous statement is accurate. Could you or she pleased rectify a statement she made when I was looking into use of the space. *** "You have to be a Recreation and Parks program to use the space. The “Sky is the Limit” is part of Therapeutic Recreation. Also all of the equipment, sound lights and curtains belong to the Sky is the Limit, we raised all of the money and bought the equipment to make a performance space. There are many different “Sky” programs that use the Theatre along with “The Sweet Adeline’s” and “The Chorus of the Chesapeake.” The theatre is used every day of the week."*** sent April 23rd of this year. So, does one have to "be a rec and park program" or do you simply have to be a community group and organize through Park and Rec? Also, fortunately, with a new site, all of the equipment is not the property of a single group and thus does not create an environment where one entity might feel that they have more authority over a location than anyone else... In fact I am sure that in the future any upgrades to the facility would be donated as property of the rec center to avoid any confusion or feelings of ownership outside of one of community. Wouldn't you agree?
Debbie Staigerwald December 04, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Cary, unfortunately I have been told by Rec and Parks that the model mentioned is what we are getting. We will have to fight for a real theatre. All of the statements I made on April 23rd are true. We will not be paying for lights and sound and curtains this time. To do regular programming in a county rec facility, you have to be a part of rec and parks. A community organization can use the facility for a special event with permission from the area staff person who manages the facility. There may also be a fee involved. The Sky is the Limit, the Sweet Adeline and the dance recitals are all part of Rec and Parks. Also, you cannot make money from a county owned building. I suggest you contact the local staff of rec and parks if you have any further questions. Also I would be glad to share any information with you about this and hope we can join together to end up with a great performance space!
cary quintana December 04, 2013 at 11:25 AM
I fully intend on fighting for not only a premium space (preferably a thrust stage, I personally love working on those) with all of the spacial tools needed. dressing/make-up/green/shop/storage etc... As I mentioned I would also love to see a secondary black box with grid. Personally, no interest in making money, any proceeds would have/will gone to the enhancement of the site.
Marge Neal (Editor) December 04, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Cary, Debbie is correct in her assessment of building use. Recreation centers come under the authority of the rec dept. and local rec councils, which administer time and space to various rec council member groups. Leftover space is doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, and yes, there are fees involved for "outside" groups. That's just the way the system works across the county. I'll dig up some information to publish an article explaining that to folks, but that't how the system has worked for decades. Rec council volunteers are the ones raising money, attending required monthly board and regular council meetings, making sure council and county rec and parks board policy is followed etc, and the perk to that commitment is that rec council programs are given first priority in building use. The Sky is the Limit originated with Dundalk Eastfield Rec Council many years ago, and while Therapeutic Rec may now "claim" it as a program, it still operates under Dundalk-Eastfield. I'll work on an explanatory piece about the rec process. And I'm still working on getting the total number of retail spaces in Dundalk ... Economic Development folks are on it for me. — Marge
cary quintana December 04, 2013 at 12:30 PM
It was the terminology of the difference between being a member of park and rec and simply being a community group going through P&R. thanks for the shop number.. I did some more digging after work but still only general stats.

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