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Bills seek state money for Washington County arts venues

January 23, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Three state bills filed last week seek more than $500,000 for Washington County capital projects, including:

· $250,000 for the Springfield Barn in Williamsport

· $150,000 for Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

· $125,000 for The Maryland Theatre

The local requests for state money, an annual practice, are known as bond bills. As part of the budget process, requests might be funded in full, in part or not at all.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, filed the bills on Friday, responding to requests from groups and a government body.

He said another bond bill is in the works: money for an engineering study on restoring the aqueduct on the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport. The request will be for $125,000, Munson's office said.

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The past few years, the House and the Senate have had separate pots of money from which bond bills were funded. Munson and other Washington County state lawmakers were not sure Tuesday if the process would be the same this year.

Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II said the town plans to expand the museum that is housed in the Springfield Barn. The museum will expand by more than 50 percent, allowing for more displays, office space and storage room, he said.

Renovations also would allow the barn to be used again for community events.

McCleaf wasn't sure Tuesday how much the project would cost.

Money for the museum, if approved, would go toward a plan to enclose the center courtyard area, creating an atrium and more year-round space.

Denis Rocco, a member of the museum's executive board, who is heading a building committee, said the area is about 3,300 square feet.

Last year, the museum asked for $300,000 in a bond bill, but the amount was cut to $150,000 before it was approved.

The atrium project is estimated to cost $2.5 million.

An anonymous donor is contributing $1 million.

Rocco said the museum is soliciting architecture firms in or around Harrisburg, Pa.; Frederick, Md.; and Hagerstown and hopes to start the work around the middle of the year.

The Maryland Theatre's request is part of a new effort to modernize the historic building, said Ron Bowers, the president of the board.

He said the board wants to improve the courtyard, the lobby, the stage and other features inside and outside. "It's a whole list of things," he said.

Bowers said the board has been more active than in recent years and is working on a master plan with long-term ideas.

Munson filed another bill on Friday connected to the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, which received bond-bill funding last year, but the new bill is only to change the name of the recipient.




On the Web



To see the bond bills, go to mlis.state.md.us/#bill. In the "Bill Number" box, type SB164 (Washington County Museum of Fine Arts), SB163 (Springfield Barn), SB162 (The Maryland Theatre) or SB161 (Barbara Ingram School for the Arts).

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