Public-private partnership might prove a better fit for Port Covington redevelopment
I was one of those who signed up to speak at Baltimore City Council's Port Covington TIF hearing. I sat through the first session and listened to the corporations, financial advisers, council members and corporate lawyers talk, and then I listened to the unions and large coalitions of citizens. On the second day of hearings, I listened to regular citizens, both supporters and naysayers. And what I gathered from hearing all those voices, all those viewpoints, was that the majority of people understand the project has potential but the general feeling is that there's too much risk in giving so much taxpayer money to a young, untried and inexperienced firm with few guarantees in how that money will be used ("Young urges Sagamore to cut deals with unions, BUILD on Port Covington TIF," Aug. 4).
So when I got my turn to speak, I proposed the city consider an alternate possibility. At the commencement of the hearings, Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said that the City Council was going to proceed on the TIF in one way or another and it would simply remain to be seen how that would play out and they wanted to hear resident ideas. So I asked the City Council to consider, instead of a TIF, entering into a public-private partnership (also known as a P3) with Sagamore. Sagamore has always stated throughout the process that the TIF funds would only be used to create infrastructure — roads and sewers and the like — so why can't the city partner with Sagamore on the development, as both parties stand to gain a lot if the development goes as planned?
P3s were developed in Maryland to mitigate the risks of private interests taking on a massive infrastructure project that might, in the end, turn out too big for them — and that's exactly what this Port Covington development is. Sagamore has been around for less than three years, and they don't have any major projects under their belt and have no significant experience with infrastructure buildout of this size. However, Baltimore has lots of experience with roads and infrastructure as well as a bountiful directory of small, minority-owned businesses already licensed by the city to perform infrastructure engineering and construction.
So why can't Baltimore enter into a P3 with Sagamore to leverage our experience in horizontal construction to parallel Sagamore's vertical construction?
Amanda Maminski, Baltimore
The writer is the Green Party nominee to represent District 10 on the Baltimore City Council.