The Capital of Annapolis
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Raising money for the National Sailing Hall of Fame has been choppier than expected, and officials will ask the Board of Public Works next month to extend the state deadline by three years.
Organizers say the poor economy has hurt their efforts to raise the $30 million the state requires before construction can begin on the hall of fame in Annapolis. They have raised a total of $3 million, the organization's director said.
The hall of fame has been able to meet other state requirements, including creation of programs that teach sailing, and classes that use sailing to teach math and science to Anne Arundel County and Annapolis children.
"It is slow on the capital front, but it's been very strong on the programmatic front," NSHOF director Lee Tawney said of the group's efforts.
"It's been difficult for any group to raise money in this economy," Tawney added.
A number of key state and city officials say they support granting the three-year extension, given NSHOF's overall momentum.
On Feb. 24, 2010, the state granted NSHOF a 50-year lease for the land and building at 69 Prince George St. in Annapolis. The building is the historic Capt. Burtis House and was being used by Natural Resources Police. NSHOF has a design for a new 20,000-square foot structure that will incorporate the Burtis house.
The Board of Public Works, as a condition for granting the lease, required NSHOF to demonstrate its viability. The organization was required to raise $12.5 million for constructing the building, $7.5 million for exhibitions, $3 million for an education fund, $5 million for a fund to cover operating costs, and $2 million as an emergency building fund.
The state gave the organization two years to meet this goal, or the lease would terminate automatically, according to BPW minutes.
"We felt, before we realized the impact of the recession, that it was possible, that it wasn't beyond the pale," Tawney said.
While funds have been slower coming in than expected, NSHOF has created a number of programs for young people.
This past summer, it provided a science and math camp for 40 county high school students. The curriculum included learning how the test tank at the Naval Academy works.
During the school year, the center conducts after-school science and math classes that attract about 150 students. NSHOF maintains several computer-equipped classrooms in the Burtis House, and middle school students come there to study navigation.
For teaching sailing, NSHOF owns two wooden-hull boats, Bull and Bear. (As the names imply, the boats' donor made his fortune in the stock market.)
State officials said they understand the Hall of Fame's fundraising predicament.
"The NSHOF has demonstrated continuous community outreach, public educational programming and installed their first list of Hall of Fame inductees, along with raising money. All of these are indicators to us that this project has kept positive momentum and is worthy of additional time to raise money, given the economy," state Department of Natural Resources spokesman Josh Davidsburg said.
NSHOF has been moving ahead, despite the disappointing fundraising.
In September, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman became the group's honorary chairman and a month later, in San Diego, NSHOF inducted its first group of Hall of Famers. The list of 14 inductees includes historical figures, such as 19th century naval architect Nathaniel Greene Herreshoff and modern sailors Ted Turner, Gary Jobson and Betsy Alison, the Paralympic Coach for U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.
Holding the event in California was calculated to give NSHOF nationwide exposure, organizers said.
"If we are talking about raising the kind of money that's needed, we can't raise it here in Annapolis. It is a national institution," Tawney said.
Two years ago, a number of Ward One residents opposed leasing state land to NSHOF. The main objection was that the private organization would come under state regulations and thereby be exempt from city control. The state refused to allow this quasi-state project to come under local control.
Residents' opposition may have abated.
"I haven't had a chance to have a conversation about it with the membership, but I don't expect any opposition," Ward One Residents Association president Joe Budge said.
"If they need an extension, that is fine," Budge said. "It (fundraising) in the current economic environment is tougher than anybody expected."
Mayor Josh Cohen, who has supported NSHOF from the start, on Friday said he hopes the state will give the group another three years to raise the necessary money.
"I think it is a positive they have been able to raise as much money as they have," Cohen said.
"I think it (NSHOF) will help anchor that part of City Dock revitalization," Cohen said. "The group of people they have are really top-notch, and they know what they are doing."
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://www.hometownannapolis.com/
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)