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Annapolis National Sailing Hall of Fame's lease extended

Annapolis resident Gary Jobson
Annapolis resident Gary Jobson (Courtesy photo)

The Maryland Board of Public Works granted the National Sailing Hall of Fame another three-year extension on its lease Wednesday with a condition: the organization needs to file an annual report to the board once a year, updating them on their fundraising.

The extended lease grants the Sailing Hall of Fame another three years to raise $9.5 million for a redevelopment of the property. The museum had a lease with the state pledging to build a 12,000-square-foot building. But with the extension the hall of fame will be scaling back that project to about 7,000 square feet, said Gary Jobson, Annapolis resident and President of the National Sailing Hall of Fame's Board of Directors.

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Without this extension, the organization would have lost its lease with the state. The museum pays $1 rent annually as part of the deal. Conditions of the approval included a yearly update to the Board of Public Works as well as a historical report on the Captain Burtis house on the property.

"We are very happy with the board's decision," Jobson said. "It will become a wonderful anchor to city dock."

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During Wednesday's meeting, treasurer Nancy K. Kopp floated the conditions of the annual report. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot supported Kopp's conditions and expressed excitement about the museum's plans. The board unanimously granted the lease.

Efforts to build the project have not come without controversy.

The National Sailing Hall of Fame has pitched this project for more than a decade, scaling it back in 2014. The plan was a $28.5 million project, which was pruned to $9.5 million after the recession hampered fundraising.

Since that time the museum has received $1.25 million in state funds. Jobson said the organization has about $2 million restricted funds as well as a $1 million in pledges.

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The plan is to reduce programs and focus all efforts on raising the remaining money to move the project forward, Jobson said.

Using taxpayer money has rankled some like Delegate Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis, who has wanted the state to require the organization match state money. The museum does not have to match grants from the state. Matching grants are often standard practice and can help projects raise money since donors know more money is available pending their donation.

Others have raised concerns the project would destroy what is known at the Captain Burtis house, the home of Captain William H. Burtis, a key figure in the city's maritime history.

McMillan, who doesn't have an issue with the lease renewal or project, wants the state to hold accountable the hall of fame as it fails to meet its lease requirements.

Pending approval from General Assembly, the hall is poised to receive another $1 million from the state in fiscal year 2019.

"It is time for some tough love," McMillan said. "For ten years they have been saying they are going to do a lot of things, and they haven't."



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