The first meeting of the state’s new three-member Board of Public Works lasted less than an hour, including introductions by the new members: Governor Wes Moore and Comptroller Brooke Lierman. By the end of the meeting, more than $229 million in spending was approved, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to boys and girls clubs in Hagerstown and Salisbury.
Lierman, whose office is responsible for overseeing every dollar that goes in and out, said recent federal investments present a “new opportunity to focus on not just making government spend, but making sure we’re actually investing and investing in our communities.” “.
The board unanimously approved $189.5 million for 32 capital grants and loans for projects across the state, including some that will be combined with existing federal funds. One such project costs $2 million for a new main facility for the Washington County Boys & Girls Club.
The Hagerstown facility will receive $2 million from the state
The current club is on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown and has been serving children in the community since the 1970s, but the building is more than 100 years old, according to Addie Nardi, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.
“We’re going to be able to offer (kids) a safe, state-of-the-art clubhouse that has all the bells and whistles that these kids honestly deserve,” Nardi said. Asked about the “bells and whistles,” Nardi initially said the new building would not have a serious leakage problem. There will also be a STEM room, a youth center and an arts and crafts room.
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The facility, one of four in Washington County, currently serves about 80 children ages 6 to 18, Nardi said. When fully operational, the building could accommodate 125 young people. About 40 are now on a waiting list for programming, she said.
The $2 million approved Wednesday was originally part of a $5 million request to the then-government. Larry Hogan, assisted by State Senator Paul Corderman, R-Washington. $4 million in federal funding for the facility was secured earlier this month when President Joe Biden signed legislation incorporating the funds submitted by Rep. David Trone, D-6th, as community project funding.
Nardi said about $10.5 million has been raised so far for the expected $11 million project. The state and federal government’s $6 million was supplemented by private philanthropy. The new clubhouse is scheduled for completion in fall 2024, she said.
Salisbury Receives Grant for Double Truitt Street Community Center Space
In Salisbury, the Baltimore Metropolitan Boys & Girls Clubs have been running programs for children at the Truitt Street Community Center since spring 2022. A $350,000 grant approved by the Board of Public Works on Wednesday will allow the organization to roughly double the size of its current 3,000-square-foot facility.
The current location at 319 Truitt St. includes a gym and is designed for 30 children.
“Right now the building is kind of a big space,” said Jesse Schaefer, senior director of development and communications at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore. “It limits the kind of programming you can offer.”
The new space will tie into the old one, said Anna Piccirilli, senior regional director on the east coast at Metropolitan Baltimore’s Boys & Girls Clubs. She said the new facility will accommodate at least 75 children a day and will include a learning lab, a tech center and a STEM room.
“There is such a great need for after-school programs in the area,” said Piccirilli, who also directs programs in Cambridge and Pocomoke City. She thanked outgoing Salisbury Mayor Jake Day and his staff for their support of the project, which is estimated to cost $800,000 when complete this summer.
Day was selected by Moore to lead the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
Moore reiterates his pledge to increase minority participation in state contracts
Neither the Hagerstown nor the Salisbury projects were specifically mentioned at the Board of Public Works meeting on the second floor of the State House in Annapolis. Both were approved as part of a larger package. Prince George’s County Executive Secretary Angela Alsobrooks was present to advocate approval of a letter of intent between the county and the Maryland Stadium Authority as a step toward a facility near Landover Road and Arena Drive.
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Moore heralded a new day for the board as he chaired the meeting with Lierman and 13-month state treasurer Dereck Davis. He also signaled intentions to work towards a campaign pledge to reduce the state’s racial wealth gap by increasing minority business enterprise (MBE) participation in state contracts.
“The era of agencies lavishly issuing MBE waivers and not holding prime contractors accountable for meeting MBE targets is over,” Moore said.
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As a candidate, Moore proposed meeting the state’s own goal of 29 percent minority corporate ownership in its procurement process. In the 2021 financial year, the state achieved a stake of 17.2 percent in minority companies.
Dwight A. Weingarten is an investigative reporter covering the Maryland State House and state affairs. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DwightWeingart2.