Three candidates for County Executive weigh in
The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to give a $300,000 grant to a homeless-outreach center in downtown Towson.
Prologue Inc. had been renting its building for $1 per year from Trinity Episcopal Church for the past two decades, but will now buy the property outright with the grant money.
Andrea Van Arsdale, the county’s director of planning, testified Tuesday that “based on the discussion at last week’s work session, Prologue has offered to add restrictions to the grant agreement that preclude the use as a homeless shelter, and to prohibit any overnight stays. Other restrictions include installing an exterior sign with contact information, increasing security measures to deter any loitering, and painting the exterior of the building.”
Some people who own space in the office building across from Prologue said the outreach center attracted homeless people to the area who, upon finding Prologue closed, often look for shelter in their office building or garage. Prologue is only open from 8AM to 3PM three days per week.
“I want to thank the administration for working with my office for incorporating those conditions into the agreement,” said Councilman David Marks, who had paused the grant’s approval process to hear community concerns. “I think it greatly strengthens the agreement and actually strengthens Prologue’s mission, but also provides important protections for the community.”
Marks asked Van Arsdale what would happen if Prologue sold the property within the next 15 years, which is the length of the grant agreement.
“They would have to continue with the original conditions of the contract and grant agreement,” she replied.
Wayne Gioioso, a Towson real estate investor, had proposed a different idea in which he would buy the property and donate it to a community task force. The task force would then lease the land to a developer and and create a perpetual ground-rent revenue stream for homeless services. Prologue’s future, though, was left up in the air under that plan.
This week, Gioioso asked the council to add another amendment to the agreement under which the county would have the right of first refusal to purchase the property back for $300,000 if Prologue ever decided to sell.