Is The National Sailing Hall of Fame Good for Annapolis? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is The National Sailing Hall of Fame Good for Annapolis?

I don't know, but it sure make for good news stories. Although I'm a professional sailor and have been involved in recreational boating and the boating industry for more than three decades, I just don't know if what is proposed is good for Annapolis. We are a sailing town, in fact, we are the putative Sailing Capital of North America, if not all of the Americas. Sure you can argue about that, but if there is going to be a Sailing Hall of Fame anywhere, why not here? Well, why not here? I'm just not convinced that we need such a thing or that it really serves Annapolis. Please read on...
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 None of its supporters have bothered to send my any information, or otherwise invite me to any events or "sell" the thing to me. However, I know that a lots of folks in Ward One are opposed. Now having Ward One opposed to something exciting or different is not a new thing. We're used to that, but they bring up a lot of good points in their opposition. For example, see this recent letter from the Ward One Residents Association (WORA) to The State's Board of Public Works which plays a crucial role in approving the project:
Bevin Ann Buchheister
Board of Public Works
Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Bldg.
80 Calvert Street
Annapolis, MD 21401

RE: State Lease to the National Sailing Hall of Fame 

January 18, 2010

Governor O’Malley, Treasurer Kopp, and Comptroller Franchot:
The Ward One Residents Association represents over 600 residents who live in the downtown area of Historic Annapolis and who will be directly impacted by the existence and operations of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, NSHOF. 
Over the past two years NSHOF representatives have communicated with our organization, and presented their overall plans and design plans at several of our general membership meetings. We appreciate their willingness to discuss their plans with us, and especially their decision to preserve the Burtis House in its historic location. 
Two weeks ago we were asked by a representative from the National Sailing Hall of Fame to write a letter of support for their project. Accordingly, we asked to review the lease before we made a decision about whether to endorse the project. We were told we could not see the lease, nor were we furnished with the 14 page “programmatic agreement” which was apparently furnished to the press upon their request to see the lease. Without the opportunity to review the lease, we cannot endorse this project.
Furthermore, we did not have enough notice to take a vote of our general membership on whether to endorse the project, and while some of our members support the NSHOF concept, other members have expressed concerns.
In addition to the concerns raised by Alderman Richard Israel, the following issues have been raised most frequently by WORA members: 
  • Who would own the property, the docks and water rights should the NSHOF go out of business?  
  • What is the financial plan for operating the NSHOF as a non-profit museum, which plans to offer free admission?
  • Will the NSHOF become another event venue, competing with local hotels, clubs, and other museum facilities for weddings, business meetings, and other non-sailing related events?
  • Will this museum be dependent upon our City and State Government for indefinite future support at a time when we are making drastic cuts to the State budget and face the same in our City, and when most museums are struggling?
  • Why will land that is now on the City tax rolls be converted into tax-exempt State property and taken off the City tax rolls?
  • Why do the City and State donations, including off budget contributions like dredging and rebuilding the docks, seem to be out of balance with the limited private investment currently pledged.
  • Is this museum redundant considering the presence of the Maritime Museum in Eastport and the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Hall of Fame at the Naval Academy?
  • Do the design and materials planned for the proposed building complement the character of the Annapolis Historic District and the waterfront?
Since this lease will impact Ward One and City residents for possibly the next 70 years, we ask that you postpone approval of this lease until these issues are addressed, and until we have the opportunity to review the lease.


Bevin Ann Buchheister, Esq.
President, Ward One Residents Association  
cc:  Honorable Michael E. Busch
       Honorable John C. Astle 
      Honorable Virginia P. Clagett
       Honorable Ron George
        Honorable Joshua J. Cohen
        Lee Tawney, NSHOF Director           

CP is pleased to present different views of this. Please send your properly identified letters in as comments. Thank you.

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