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Governor pledges aid to restore historic house


Gov. Parris N. Glendening pledged $40,000 to London Town Publik House, restoring a small portion of a grant the historic Annapolis mansion lost in an unrelated political dispute this month.

The General Assembly refused to pay half of a $550,000 request for renovations at London Town after learning that Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary would not match the state contribution in the county's 1996 fiscal year budget.

Mr. Glendening said Monday that the state would provide the smaller grant this year to remedy emergency problems at the historic property on the South River. The grant, funded by the Maryland Historic Trust, demands a county match.

"The state is prepared to take immediate action," Mr. Glendening said in a letter to state legislators from the Annapolis area. "In addition, I will support a bond bill next year to complete the necessary renovations to the House and Gardens."

The building's foundations are rotting, its basement leaks, and its chimney is losing bricks. A tobacco barn and gardens on the surrounding 10 acres along the South River also are in a state of disrepair.

Mr. Glendening met Monday with Del. Virginia P. Clagett, a West River Democrat, and Del. Michael E. Busch and Sen. John C. Astle, both Annapolis Democrats, to discuss funding emergency repairs at the mansion.

Last week, members of the London Town board of directors threatened to disband because of the political dispute. Foundation members will meet with Mr. Gary tomorrow to discuss the $40,000 county match.

Larry Telford, Mr. Gary's spokesman, said the county would not have any trouble funding the county's match. "As far as I know, there's no problem with that," he said.

Ms. Clagett had opposed the county in an unrelated dispute over $9.2 million in back tobacco taxes, killing a bill that would have relieved the county of its obligation to pay the back tobacco taxes to the city.

Mr. Gary then killed funding to renovate London Town. He said the decision was not related to the dispute over tobacco taxes.

The city had sued the county for the back tobacco taxes. Last week, Circuit Court Judge Bruce C. Williams dismissed the Annapolis lawsuit, ruling that the city had waited too long to make its claim.

The City Council met yesterday in a closed session and authorized City Attorney Paul G. Goetzke to appeal that decision to the Court of Special Appeals and seek the full $9.2 million in back taxes, Mr. Goetzke said. A final decision should be rendered by the fall.

Mr. Telford said he thought the city would lose its appeal even though the case would be heard in a state appellate court, not a circuit court.

"We're confident we're going to win this suit regardless of where it's going to go," Mr. Telford said.

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