American Legion Post 91 to lease Governors Hall
CAMBRIDGE — Governors Hall is no longer managed by the nonprofit Sailwinds of Cambridge, Inc., as of Wednesday, Nov. 30.
The possibility of the city negotiating with American Legion Post 91 to lease the building for up to three years was presented at the Monday, Sept. 12, meeting of City Council. Post 91 lost its own building to a fire in May.
According to City Manager Sandra Tripp-Jones, the city is moving forward with that lease agreement. The lease is expected to have begun on Thursday, Dec. 1.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, an auction was held and much of the equipment was sold, such as tables, chairs, kitchen equipment, and more.
Anthony Thomas, during public comment at the Monday, Nov. 28, city council meeting, said he was concerned about the authority of Sailwinds of Cambridge, Inc to sell the equipment.
City attorney Rob Collison said that city staff was unable to determine that taxpayer money purchased the equipment, and since Governors Hall is considered a commercial enterprise, fixtures and equipment do not have to remain with the building.
The Post 91 building sustained about $900,000 in damage when a lightning strike is thought to have started the fire above the facility’s main banquet hall.
Fire crews from Cambridge, Easton, Trappe and Oxford all responded to Radiance Drive, and westbound U.S. Route 50 was shut down for a short time to allow crews to battle the fire. It took firefighters about two hours to control the blaze, the fire marshal’s office said, and no injuries were reported.
Governors Hall is part of an approximately 12-acre parcel of waterfront property that was transferred to the city from the state in August 2014, with the condition that the city would develop the property within 15 years.
A two-acre parcel of the property is being leased to Yacht Maintenance Company under a 30 year agreement that the council voted to approve on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Earlier in 2016, the council declared a small area, less than an acre, to be excess property in order to include it in the portion leased to YMC.
The increased area will allow YMC to service larger vessels than the company is currently able to accommodate, which will in turn create jobs and increase revenue.
As for the rest of the property, the city is still weighing their options for development. The matter is regularly discussed at City Council meetings, and the council has held several work sessions solely to work on how to move forward with the Sailwinds property.
Surveys have been done about the project to gauge the opinions of the general public, and the council has accepted public comment in several instances since the process of developing the Sailwinds property began.
Most recently, a work session was held to outline four development approaches: request for quotation (RFQ), request for proposal (RFP) with minimum requirements, RFP with criteria or the city acts as the developer.
Tripp-Jones said the city does not have the experienced personnel it would require to design, build and manage a project of this magnitude.
Governors Hall sits at the Sailwinds Park port property along Hayward and Franklin streets on the Choptank River waterfront in Cambridge.