City Board of Estimates allows aquarium to rent nearby half-acre park for $1 a year

The National Aquarium in Baltimore will pay $1 a year to rent a half-acre city park under a 25-year deal approved yesterday by the city Board of Estimates.

The parkland, just west of the aquarium on Pratt Street, was until recently little more than a dirt lot with a Mark di Suvero sculpture on it, said M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the quasi-public agency that brought the matter before the board.


The aquarium has installed sod and a sprinkler system in anticipation of the deal. It wants control of the parcel so it can be better maintained, Brodie said. Shrubs and a retaining wall may be added to the site, according to materials presented to the board. There are no plans to remove the sculpture.

"It's really like their front yard, and they're interested in having it look decent," Brodie said.


The agreement gives the aquarium the option to renew for two 10-year periods.

In other action, the board awarded a $1.18 million contract to B&B; Commercial Interior Inc. to install carpeting at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Purchasing officials said B&B; was the only company to bid properly on the project. But officials with two other companies that submitted bids said their offers should have been considered.

Officials with All State Carpet said that if the city accepted their bid, it would save more than $150,000 and, through recycling, keep more than 56 tons of carpet tile out of its landfill.

Purchasing officials said they did not consider the All State bid because the company had not put up a sufficient bid bond until two days after the deadline. The company called that a "technical" flaw, but the board said it could not be overlooked.

Another company, CB Flooring Inc., said its $1.1 million bid also should have been considered. Purchasing officials said the bid was faulty because it said carpeting would be installed by a woman-owned subcontractor that has not been certified by the city to do that work.

CB officials said the subcontractor is certified to remove carpet, and that work falls under the city's definition of carpet installation. But board members said the bid should have been more explicit about what work the subcontractor would perform.