Harford state bond bills seek funding for APG center, ballfield, museum

Harford Del. Lisanti said national manufacturing sciences facility will be 'fabulous project'

Harford County Del. Mary Ann Lisanti is seeking state financial support for a proposed multi-million dollar National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in Harford County, a facility that would bring together defense contractors who also work with the Army Research Lab at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"It's a fabulous project," Lisanti, a Democrat, said Tuesday.

The science center is one of several projects for which Harford County legislators are seeking state funding support in the current Maryland General Assembly session.

Another of the local bond issue bills would be used to develop a baseball field at Harford Community College for children with disabilities.

Lisanti is the primary sponsor of House Bill 1507, a request for $300,000 in state bond funding to support the proposed National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.

Lisanti said in a previous interview that the project would be developed at The Gate, a private business park which is within the federal installation's security perimeter and near the APG Route 715 gate. The park was developed under an enhanced use lease arrangement with the Army.

According to Lisanti, the center would be operated by a non-profit in conjunction with the Army Research Laboratory on APG.

"They will build a state-of-the-art component," she said. "It's a huge project, one that will involve about $50 million from the feds."

She added that the state contribution would be a small investment paying potentially large dividends for Harford County and the region.

Lisanti is also sponsoring HB-1453 for $75,000 to support the restoration of the Skipjack Martha Lewis in Havre de Grace, plus HB-1417, for $50,000 to support the Epicenter in Edgewood, which is a nonprofit community center that serves as the Edgewood campus of Joppa-based Mountain Christian Church.

Baseball field plan

The owner of Plaza Ford in Bel Air and his family are seeking funds to develop a community baseball facility on Harford Community College's main Bel Air campus, and the request for $100,000 through House Bill 1607, sponsored by Republican Dels. Andrew Cassilly and Teresa Reilly, would be a major boost for their fundraising.

"It would get us off the ground," Katie Walls Hargrove, daughter of dealership owner Tom Walls and vice president of the board of the Miracle League of Harford County — her father is the board president.

The Miracle League of Harford County is the local affiliate of a nationwide organization that promotes programs and facilities that allow children with disabilities to play baseball in their communities.

The Harford organization, which was founded in early 2016, plans to raise about $500,000 for a baseball field, complete with seating, in the vicinity of other sports complexes for the college.

Officials are finalizing arrangements with HCC leaders to put the facility on campus, according to Hargrove.

Hargrove said the organization is recognized by the state, which makes it eligible for state funding, but there is still an eight-month process ahead to get federal approval for nonprofit status, which would then allow them to raise money from other donors who she said are "waiting in the wings."

"We would love to have a spring league next year, if possible," she said.

The field would be much smaller than a regulation youth baseball field.

Cassilly noted the field would be accessible to students with special needs who attend the John Archer School across Thomas Run Road from HCC.

"Because of its location and because of the high probability it's going to get a lot of use, I really felt like it was an appropriate project," he said.

Hosanna Museum

Casilly and Reilly, who are the respective vice chair and chair of Harford's House delegation, are also sponsoring House Bill 1606, to provide up to $45,000 to the Hosanna School Museum in Darlington.

The museum preserves the history of two Freedmen's Bureau schools built for black children in 1867, the Hosanna School in Darlington and the McComas Institute in Joppa.

Up to $45,000 in state funds would be released once the museum's board of directors shows it has raised matching funds, according to the legislation.

Cassilly said the museum's organization is "very motivated," and the state money would be used for capital improvements in the museum, such as upgrading the restrooms.

Those upgrades for what Cassilly called "such a worthwhile project" would allow museum officials to open the facility up to more and larger organizations and put themselves on a path to become self sustaining.

"The goal is really to expand the usage of the facility," he said.

Wildlife center funding

State Sen. J.B. Jennings is sponsoring Senate Bill 1008 to provide $100,000 to the Phoenix Wildlife Center in northeastern Baltimore County.

Jennings' district covers eastern Baltimore County and western Harford.

"Any animal that is rescued in the Baltimore, Harford, Carroll [County], Baltimore City area, that's where they go," Jennings said Monday.

A baby fox rescued from a sewer pipe in Aberdeen in 2015 and a bald eagle that a fisherman freed from tangled fishing line in Susquehanna State Park in 2014 have both been sent to Phoenix to recover.

Del. Kathy Szeliga is sponsoring a companion bill in the House, HB-1097.

Jennings is sponsoring SB-1051 for $500,000 to build a therapeutic riding center at Camp Puh'tok for Boys and Girls, Inc. in Monkton.

He noted children from around the region visit the camp, which is about two miles from the Harford County line, for school trips, including Harford students.

Aegis staff member Allan Vought contributed to this report.

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