Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

More on Belmont

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, March 27, 2006

Does this stink? The more deeply one reads into this the more one has questions.

Mr. Lundy gives $1 million and says:

His intention, he said, was to build senior housing and split the profits with the foundation to help retire the $4.2 million loan the college obtained — in addition to his $1 million — that was used to buy the property from the American Chemical Society in November 2004.

Also this:

However, Lundy is likely to receive a refund if County Executive James N. Robey's plan to have the county buy the 68-acre estate and the adjoining 13-acre Dobbin property is consummated, county officials said.

She said she hopes that if the Robey plan for county purchase of the estate goes through, Lundy will be repaid his $1 million, but the deal is not automatic.

Chip Lundy is a businessman. He is utilizing all available means to run his business. I don't fault him for identifying a business opportunity and make a profit.

However, Ms. Duncan's less than forthright explanation to Mr. Lundy's involvement ($1 million to be exact) and now the County Executive coming forward to bail out the college and refund Mr. Lundy's failed investment makes one wonder if their is more to this story.

Is this a sweetheart deal gone bad and now going good?

I have long thought that Mr. Robey has been too cozy with the development community. He has collected over $19,000 from that community during his political career. One must wonder – would Mr. Robey use County funds to bail out any other business deals gone sour?

Save Belmont's Web Site

Posted this question on its FAQ page

How will HCCEF pay for the purchase of Belmont?

A recent financial report shows that HCCEF had about $200,000 in unrestricted funds, and liabilities of $500,000 before this purchase. The County Executive has also stated that the county doesn’t have the funds to help buy the property.

Under these conditions, HCCEF has entered into an “educational partnership” with a developer, a HCCEF Board member until October 2004. According to the Washington Post, the developer paid the $1,000,000 down payment and is paying the mortgage for the first two years.

To recoup his investment, the developer is apparently attempting to build houses on the property or next to it on current state park land. To do this, the developer needs a new access road, and county water and sewer. The developer is pursuing the purchase/swap of level, forested Patapsco State Park land for a large portion of Belmont's rolling hills that is less conducive to development.

Turns out they were right. The State DNR denied the request for the property swap. Note that the County Executive said we didn't have the money to help buy the property. Given our $20 million surplus now we do and future surpluses will go to operate the property. Mary Ellen Duncan's tactics on this fiasco should not be rewarded. She got the college in way over its head on this and brought in a private developer to help fund her strategy and tried to re-write the easments so that the developer and the college could benefit from developing the property.

Belemont would be great for the college. However, they bit off more than the could chew, they were less than forthcoming with the Legislature and the citizens, and the neighbors.

Would the County be a good steward of the property? Yes, I think so. Would it make for a wonderful public space for residents? It certainly would.

Should Chip Lundy be reimbursed for speculating about developing the property? No he shouldn't and Jim Robey should be encouraged not to reward anyone for such speculation. What do you think?

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4 Responses to “More on Belmont”

  1. Anonymous said

    Where I come from we call that “Hitting the Nail on the head”…..Good job, maybe a job in Investigative Journalism is in your future.

  2. Anonymous said

    How do you know that DNR denied the request for the swap?

  3. hocoblog said

    To answer the readers question. savebelmont.org posted a copy of the letter on its website.

    http://www.savebelmont.org/index_files/Page2690.htm

    In a letter dated February 16, 2005, addressed to Mr. Lundy at his Williamsburg Group PO Box and signed by Mr. Stephen S. Hershey Jr., Assistant Secretary and a copy to Mr. Gene Piotrowski.

  4. Anonymous said

    Robey (and the Howard County taxpayers) shouldn’t be “refunding” Dr Duncan’s $1 million “gift” she says Chip Lundy gave to her. Let the HCC Board find a way to pay it back (that is, if they haven’t already spent it). I also think we have a right to see that contract to see what really was in it.
    Shame on your Dr. Duncan for your shady little deal, gone bad.

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