A groundbreaking ceremony will be held May 30 to celebrate the construction of Towson University's satellite classroom building at Harford Community College.
The announcement comes about two weeks after the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $786,000 contract for "professional management and construction services" on the $22 million project, according to records provided by board staffers.
"We're all very exited and happy that all phases of the project have been approved," HCC President Dennis Golladay said Wednesday.
The three-member board, which includes Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, deferred action on the contract with general contractor Turner Construction Co. during its March 20 meeting after O'Malley and Franchot publicly criticized Towson University President Maravene Loeschke's announcement that month the school's men's baseball and soccer teams would be disbanded.
Franchot and O'Malley voted to defer, and Kopp voted against it, according to records.
Loeschke and other university officials determined the men's teams needed to be cut to preserve equal athletic funding for women's teams, as is required under the federal Title IX statute.
The decision prompted an outcry from Towson athletes, alumni, parents and donors.
"I hope, unless there's an awful good explanation, that the actions are reversed and the teams and the coaches are all put back where they were before," Franchot told The Baltimore Sun after the March 20 meeting.
University officials withdrew the contract from the board's April 3 meeting agenda, but all three Board of Public Works members approved it as part of a package of University System of Maryland contracts during their April 17 meeting.
Board members had approved a nearly $21.5 million contract with Turner – which is also overseeing renovations to HCC's Susquehanna Center – during its Feb. 6 meeting.
Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, said earlier this week the governor and comptroller met with Loeschke and talked through the issues.
O'Malley and the General Assembly approved a $300,000 allocation this spring to the University System of Maryland to help schools achieve Title IX parity, The Sun reported.
"This was just meant to serve as a temporary solution, hopefully for the university to come up with a more sustainable option in the future," Winfield said.
She continued: "This happened to be Towson, she continued, but the governor realized that the Title IX issues are very complicated and this is something that doesn't just affect Towson University."
While construction on the 55,000-square-foot facility at HCC, known as the "Towson Building," or a "2 + 2" facility, began earlier this year, local officials were concerned the fracas over the Towson University athletics could delay completion.
The three-story building, which will be built on the west side of Thomas Run Road, will provide space for Harford and Cecil County students to take Towson University classes.
"In essence, because the Governor and Comptroller are upset with Towson University over a recent budgetary and management decision regarding sports programming, they are now playing politics with the education of students and faculty associated with Towson University and Harford Community College," Harford County Executive David Craig stated in late March.
Towson University officials are working with HCC officials to put on the May 30 groundbreaking, which will include remarks from Loeschke, Golladay and HCC's former president, James LaCalle.
Invitations are being sent out. To RSVP or for more information, contact Towson's Office of Special Events, 410-704-3419 or visit http://www.tutigertracks.com/tune2013.
The Towson Building is one of two major construction projects taking place on the HCC campus. College officials are also working to build a Nursing and Allied Health classroom building on the east side of Thomas Run Road, to house all of the college's nursing programs.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun