More visible recognition launched for funding gifts; Balto. Co. officials hope donations will increase


This fall, a metal sign will be erected at a Rosedale elementary school crediting a neighborhood savings and loan with paying for $30,000 worth of playground equipment at the school.

The foot-high sign at Red House Run Elementary will signala new phase in how Baltimore County accepts donations for parks and sporting events, one that county officials hope will bring in thousands more in contributions.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger signed an executive order in July spelling out the levels of recognition -- ranging from a listing in a brochure to a 3-foot sign -- donors will receive for contributions to fund park improvements and sporting events. The sign at Red House Run, acknowledging Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan's donation, will be the first sign erected as part of that policy.

County officials say the Sponsorship Recognition Policy should encourage more contributions because donors will be assured of recognition.

"We hope and we anticipate seeing more of this kind of thing," said John F. Weber III, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

Weber said the county has accepted private donations for decades, ranging from athletic equipment to tot lots and trees. But the county could never give donors recognition, Weber said.

The County Council, which must approve all donations, requested the policy last year because of an increasing number of highly visible donations being made for area park improvements, sports facilities and recreation programs. Anne Arundel County officials began collecting donations from companies, including McDonald's, about seven years ago to underwrite a series of summer park concerts. Ocean City has an annual $1.1 million agreement that makes Coca-Cola the resort town's official drink.

Baltimore County officials say they don't expect deals that are quite so lucrative.

Weber said that county parks will not be renamed, and the county has no plans for exclusive franchise agreements at any facilities. He also emphasized that the County Council will be told about the specific forms of recognition to be given a donor when it approves a contribution.

He said that while Rosedale Federal is the only donor currently lined up, "we hope to raise awareness, get the word out that this kind of recognition is out there for anyone who wants to be a sponsor."

Under the new county policy, a donor who gives more than $5,000 for a specific event may have the name used in the title of the event. Those who give less will be recognized in event brochures and promotional materials.

Donors who give between $5,001 and $50,000 for park improvements, such as playground equipment or fencing, may have a 1-foot-by-3-foot sign displayed for up to five years. Donations of $5,000 or less for improvements will earn either a smaller sign, a plaque, or a listing in county brochures, while recognition for donations of more than $50,000 will be decided on a case-by-case basis

Charles Scheeler, chairman of Rosedale's board of directors, said that he approached county officials a year ago about making a donation because the savings and loan wanted to generate some good will. He said the sign made the donation easier to sell to Rosedale's board of directors.

"We have a lot of customers in this community, and we felt like after doing business here all these years, we wanted to give something back," Scheeler said.

The donation is scheduled to be approved by the council Oct. 18.

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