PenMar executive director says he will

April 24, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CASCADE - The sole employee of the PenMar Development Corp. said Monday that he will continue working for the organization indefinitely.

PenMar Executive Director Richard Rook was the only PenMar employee to not join the payroll of Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) after the recent transfer of the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade.

Hired in 2002 to manage day-to-day operations, Rook said he investigated the possibility of becoming the Fort Ritchie On-Site Asset Manager for COPT but decided to stay in his current position after the Maryland Ethics Commission ruled in March that his transfer to a position with COPT would violate the Maryland Ethics Law.

"We determine that the Requester (Rook) would be prohibited from being employed by the Developer (COPT) to assist in any activities that flow from the 2004 agreements," the ethics commission wrote in its ruling.


Rook said he requested a ruling from the ethics commission before any formal job offer was made by COPT.

"When the property was sold, COPT came to me and asked if I would have an interest in working for them. I wrote to the ethics commission for its opinion," Rook said.

He explained that when COPT closes on a property, its practice is to hire existing staff.

George Griffin, chair of the PenMar Development Corp. board of directors, said PenMar advertised for a new director in December 2006 "in case" Rook took a job with COPT, but said Rook never actually left his position or tendered a resignation in the six months between the sale of Fort Ritchie and the ethics commission ruling.

While Rook said he would have welcomed working with COPT, he is grateful to continue as executive director of PenMar.

"I am disappointed the ethics commission has taken that stance because I feel I could have been more influential at keeping the project moving forward working for COPT," Rook said.

With the Army preparing to transfer the final parcel of Fort Ritchie to PenMar, Rook said his duties will change.

In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of PenMar, Rook will trade in his role as project manager for an advocacy role, to keep redevelopment contracts for Fort Ritchie in the hands of local companies.

"There is a strong working relationship between COPT and PenMar based on a mutual goal of economic redevelopment," he said. "I will work as an advocate to keep bids within the local area so we can bring more jobs to the area."

Rook said he anticipates the Army to transfer the final parcel of land to PenMar within 60 days.

The Herald-Mail Articles