The decision by the Havre de Grace City Council last Monday to withdraw all $12,000 in city funding originally designated for the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway may also jeopardize significant funding for local museums and the city itself.
In an eight-page letter sent to Mayor Wayne Dougherty and the City Council last Wednesday, Greenway Executive Director (and Harford County Councilwoman) Mary Ann Lisanti informed the City Council that its decision to cut all funding for the Greenway – which describes itself as “a non-profit organization whose mission is to stimulate local economic activity by developing a linkage between our natural, historic and cultural resources” – may result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in additional grants and aid being lost.
“We hope that the City now fully understands that this minor budget
amendment substantially impacts current and future capital projects by creating an unintended but serious consequence. Our local quality of life, historic charter and access to enormous funding opportunities presently and in the future remain in the hands of the City’s leadership,” Lisanti wrote.
Lisanti proceeds with a warning for the City Council as well: if the $12,000 in funding is not restored, the Greenway may be “faced
with a decision to consider rescinding authorization” for $200,000 in Havre de Grace area projects including the North Park/ Rt. 155 Gateway Project, Washington and War of 1812 Signage, and Maritime and Lighthouse Museums re-creation of HDG in 1812.
Essentially, since the Greenway no longer has financial support from Havre de Grace, it may no longer be able to act as the agent to apply for and authorize these local grants.
Furthermore, nearly $400,000 in existing projects (North trail project improvement; Interpretative/Directional signage; Trail construction / pre-development; Maritime Museum John Smith Exhibit; Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan), may be immediately affected and other future projects (Chesapeake Bay John Smith Buoy data kiosk, a
visitor information kiosk and the trail segment of the Lilly Run lmprovements project) may be abandoned altogether.
Finally, the removal of city funding to the Greenway may also jeopardize the $4.4 million federal funding request for the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway that was submitted recently by United States Senator Ben Cardin.
Is Lisanti just playing hardball with the city in order to save the Greenway’s budget for FY or does Havre de Grace truly stand to lose out on more than $5 million in outside funding for trails/museums/etc if it doesn’t reinstate the nonprofit organization’s $12,000 operating assistance in the city budget?
The fiscal year ends June 30 and Lisanti says there is still a chance for the City Council to reinstate the Greenway funding and avoid all the hassle outlined in her letter.
“We respectfully requesthat the City of Havre de Grace re-consider it’s withdrawn of support by restoring funding and reaffirming their
commitment to our regional partnership and the Lower Susquehanna
Heritage Greenway. A resolution of support for the LSHG and restoration of funding could quickly resolve any issues outlined in this letter without any further action by the Board of Directors,” she wrote.
Here is the full text of Lisanti’s letter to Havre de Grace’s Mayor and City Council:
Museum Friend says
Most Havre de Grace insiders know “the rest of the story” about the HDG council and the LSHG. Mary Ann Lisanti used to be Havre de Grace City Manager (2nd in command) until she was fired by then mayor David Craig. There is no love lost between the two of them. David Craig’s son, Randy is now Council President. Then Brenda Guldenzopf was elected to the board during the spring election. Brenda is Exec. Director of the HdG Maritime Museum. Brenda and Mary Ann literally hate each other. Then when you look at the LSHG Board of Directors and see that it includes Alan Fair, a local developer, Fred Cullum, HdG Councilman, and Roxy Lynch, David Craig’s right hand, J.W. Boniface, and Joe Kochenderfer, former HdG Councilman, the LSHG becomes a LARGE target for Brenda and Randy’s personal feelings.
Trust me, $12K is not the issue in Havre de Grace. Look closely and you’ll find some ugly small town politics that are guaranteed to backfire!
vietnam vet says
sound’s like it’s time to get Richiec on the Ball……
A Wedding Guest says
As someone that just came to your wonderful town recently, That Brenda that works at the Museum, just should be fired she was rude to the guests prior to said event, Our daughter had tried to rent the place several time, with no avail, then when found a wonderful planner in your town, Who put us elsewhere, because that woman does not want any business brought to your town, Our dear friends on the other hand had been lucky to have the same planner who is trying to rent the place, but as long as Brenda and her slugs are there the city gets what they get.
Museum Friend says
Wedding Guest, I am so sorry for the treatment you received at the Maritime Museum. We have wonderful museums and attractions that I know you’ll enjoy. The Vandiver Inn, Bomboy’s Chocolates & Ice Cream, Lantern Queen Riverboat, Bayou Restaurant and the Laurrapin Grille are all family owned businesses that understand how to treat guests. In addition, Havre de Grace hosts 5 additional museums – all known for their hospitality and knowledge. Try the Decoy Museum, Concord Point Lighthouse, Skipjack Martha Lewis, Susquehanna Museum (Lock House), and Steppingstone Museum. There are also 3 antique malls and additional antique shops, and lots of interesting little boutiques and specialty shops in town. There are even two bicycle shops in town offering bike and kayak rentals! Please give us another try!
Personally, I’d highly recommend Swan Harbor Farm for a wedding. My wife and I got married there a couple years ago and have nothing but fantastic things to say about how we were treated. It also was significantly less expensive that most other places we looked at.
Shop Girl says
Both my sisters were married at Swan Harbor. It’s totally awesome. Two of the best places to get married in HdG….Swan Harbor and the Light House.
Shop Girl says
Museum Freind, I’m having family in from Ohio this weekend. You seem to know a lot about HdG. Can you suggest a good Seafood restaurant in town…or around town? They don’t eat crabs…..but love everything else. Thanks.
Shop Girl, I know Tidewater Grille and Laurappin are a tad fancier but I think the best seafood in town is at Coakley’s. But the Billiards Club has a great crab cake!
Johnny B. says
You’re right Mike, Billiards club does have the best crab cakes. If you can handle the decor. Actually, I would say the best carb cake in Harford county can be found at the Olive Tree in Aberdeen…..Go figure, but it’s true. Get it broiled, not fried.
The letter appears to me as a resounding body of evidence for charges of extortion. Pay a little protection money and maybe your legs won’t get broken and your shop won’t get burned down? I thought Lisanti was supposed to represent HDG? Port Deposit is in the LSHG, how much are they kicking in for the pleasure?
And…if you go to Coakley’s, get the Capt’n Charlie!
Back to the real issue:
I am absolutely astounded by the City’s decision, particularly when the evidence of the benefits the LSHG has provided to Havre de Grace and surrounds already exists.
The Council’s decision is extremely short sighted as much of the revenue supporting local businesses comes from tourism. Are they aware that probably 50% of the waterfront condominiums are owned by people who live out of state, but still pay property taxes? Are they aware the HdG has long been a stop on bus tour inineraries? Are they aware the probably 60% of the boats in HdG are owned by people from out of state? All these situations provide revenue to the city, and the city is not shy about extracting their taxes from this situation.
In other words, HdG is an export business, maintaining it’s revenues from out of state funds. The very existence of LSHG and the support they have already provided to the city enhances this “export” as it has helped to maintain property values by keeping the City as an interesting place to visit.
The city may feel complacent that it can fill all the dwellings with BRAC personnel and live of revenue extracted from the military. This is extremely short sighted, as the people of Aberdeen realized some 25 years ago, as the people of Port Deposit realized in 1976, and the people of Fort Monmouth NJ are learning today.
$12,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to some of the rather more ill advised expenditures the city has approved, and, if the need to make cuts, this is NOT the place to do it.
just dropped in says
I think post #1 hit the nail on the head and says it all. They cut their nose off to spite their face.
Van Huesen says
Well said Robin…or Coledata…or what ever name you use. You seem really informed.
no name says
I’ll expand on post one. First off I agree Museum Friend was right on with the post. Let’s look at some of the behind the scenes talk.
Randy Craig is extracting revenge for his Father. Mary Anne Lisanti voted to cut the County Executives budget, so Randy retaliated and cut her budget. Tit for Tat at the expense of the local citizens. Randy he’s the puppet master and Bill nor Mitch felt the hand up their back when the made and seconded the motion for David.
Bill Martin was the former treasurer and Board Member at the Lock House. Under his leadership the Lock house Museum almost had to declare bankruptcy. Was $2000 enough to bring back your credibility to the organization?
Mitch is a drama queen constantly stirring the pot and doing what ever he can to make himself look good. He is a board member of the Decoy Museum, Havre de Grace Main Street, and The Lock house Museum just to name a few. Mitch, have you heard of ethics. You were quick to second the motion to bring money to one of the organizations you control. That looks like a big conflict of interest.
Brenda what are your plans in this? Do you think for one minute that you will be appointed as the director of all five museums? Funny how you were let go from the decoy museum and hired by the still the struggling maritime museum.. What happened to the museum alliance? You and your friends couldn’t work together and worked against each other for your on little fiefdom. You don’t know your partners very well. All I can say is watch out for your so called friends. One of them is well known for throwing people under the bus when it has an advantage for him.
Tax Payer says
Dear No Name ,
You are so right, I know for a fact of a person who was booking the site like crazy for the museum folks and get this never returned calls what so ever to any of there customers, That Brenda sure needs to go, and it is sad that the folks here in HDG allow this crap. But it has been going on for years, and I am sure it will continue to do so.
vietnam vet says
It’s being brought to public attention. often as not when the public is advised there is a problem. they will confront the problem.or take it too those who have the ability to snip it at the bud.
just dropped in says
Careful no name……………..don’t let too many skeletons out of that closet.
Isn’t it just a tad ironic that as a councilwoman, Mary Ann Lisanti is for cutting back on government spending, but in her job she is against it?
Which is it, Councilwoman?
The green way is a 501(c)3 non profit entity. Please do you home work. Not getting city money does not keep you from getting grant money, nor does it in any way change your 501(c)3 status. I know because I started a non profit. What has been done with all of the grant money they have been awarded thus far? Whoes pocket did it go into? Because I have not seen much done with it. The war of 1812 event hasnt drawn many people over the last few years. The Bay bouy kiosk plan is also another wastefull project. Anyone with internet access or an I-phone can easily get the data, (www.buoybay.org) A expensive kiosk to display water temperature and dissolved oxygen content is not something I can see spending money on. A visitors kiosk? Spend $50.00 and replace the kiosk with a sign directing them to the tourism office. They do a great job there with very little funding. I for one do not like to see my tax dollars funding these thing and I think the council was right to cut the funding. Im sorry, if your museum cannot make it on its own it should close. Hire a new grant writer or start displaying something people want to see. These are tough economic times and we need to stop spending money projects that only serve a select few. Its still America for a little while longer. Its ok to fail, we get this thing call another chance!
I think you are missing the point, As I stated earlier, Havre de Grace has no economy of its own, it is a dormitory town for Baltimore, Aberdeen, Newark and Wilmington, and weekend properties for people out of state.
The amount of funds derived from tourism and visitation is considerable, and losing anything that maintains that revenue stream will be a disaster. There is very little manufacturing base to create revenue for the town, perhaps four businesses, and the are ALL subsidiaries of out of state corportations.
What do we have left? The boating industry, fuelled largly by people from PA and NJ. The restaurants, feeding those people from PA and NJ. Tht’s not much of a tax base.
I have lived here long enough to watch as Washington St, Union Ave and several of the connecting streets have developed from slum properties back into well maintained historic homes. I have watched the waterfront development (not all of which I approve of), but much of the funding for these changes came from out of town.
The changes occurred because HdG has natural properties that make it unique, even desirable.
The LSHG is working to enhance that desirability, and with some success. Unfortunately much of their success is not heralded,
Your remark about museums is, I believe, ill advised. There is probably not a museum in the world that pays for itself!
The upshot is this: You don’t want your tax dollars spent of promoting the City, but please believe me when I tell you that if you allow the tourism to die, you tax burden will be far greater.
On page 2 of the letter from Mary Ann to the council , as shown in the pdf, …”no local govt or non profit may proceed with a grant request…without the support and authorization of the LSHGW.”….
That text is probably incomplete. There is probably the words…”which will not unreasonably be withheld.” Even in the absence of that I find it absolutely mind boggling that Mary Ann would , even at the request of the directors, try to extort this 12,000 dollars from the city by threatening to disrupt our funding process.
I feel that Mary Ann (her board) should seriously reconsider the tone and tenor of this letter as I would recommend that HDG move to bring the LSHG to obsolescence if this hard handed, extortion like, effort of trying to get the non profits such as the museums and others to fall in line and go against the city under this threat to their money over a decision they have no control over.
This is yet another example of bureaucracy creep that we have seen all to often before.
This is not the way to win hearts and minds.
Blackmail is the word
I feel that the LSHG should immediately rescind this letter with apology for its tone remember all those who volunteer as a result of the city’s support.
I am personally insulted and put-out by the tone of this letter. Many of the people who are active in the non profits drum up support for the greenways efforts at times and I would urge them and the city to find alternate ways to get the available funding that the green way seems to say hinges on them if they choose to alienate them selves from the community unless the community pays their shake down.
Go Dagger !
I question why HDG needs the LSHG to write the grants…….why can’t we do it ourselves?
Jim…at some point when the heritage trail made its position play we signed on. In its delusion the trail has self determined that those that created it now are its subjects. This can easily be undone and the tone of the letter tells me that’s exactly what they want.
The trail needs to remember that these non profits existed before the trail and can exist without the trail.
Go Dagger !
Lets put in focus what has happened here….
The LSHT didn’t get 12,000 dollars from the city of HDG. Mary Ann sends a letter from the LSHT board which includes Allen Fair. Allen Fair if you recall seems to think certain neighborhoods are elite and certain ones are for the trash…as was shown in many council meetings over the years.
In her letter she literally demands the 12,000 dollars “or else”…like a gangsta with hostages she says…..”gimme DA money or ill cut off the others that get money”.
This very action…this demand…..this letter cannot be ignored.
Go Dagger !
Lasanti can avoid the hassle by leaving all other grants alone…if the LSHG messes with other grants or considers this any less support than in the past I say lets move the LSHG to obsolescence. The attitude shown is not acceptable.
Go Dagger !
Museum Friend says
You all need to understand that the LSHG is the federal conduit for funds. The LSHG represents the plans of the federal government to develop the greenway as heritage and recreation areas. So, the LSHG collects grants from the various groups of the greenway. (These may include govt. entities like HdG govt., or non-profits like a museum.) Ms. Lisanti, as Exec. Director, reviews the grant applications and then chooses the viable (and fundable) ones to include in her funding request.
Some of the most recent grants have been spent on questionable projects. For instance, consider the “new” public pier near the light house in Havre de Grace. Virtually no boaters can use it. It’s way too tall for most pleasure boaters. I asked the skippers of the bigger boats (Skipjack Martha Lewis & Lantern Queen) why they don’t use it. Turns out Havre de Grace built that great long pier (with LSHG money) without making sure there the water at the end of it was of adequate depth for the boats it was designed for, or that the pier was low enough for pleasure boats. A true cluster ****.
At lest one organization has submitted grant proposals to LSHG for more than 10 years without ever getting one funded.
And Don, remember something about the local museums. They’re all housed in buildings/property that belong to the city. If they go under, the city has to keep them up. And because there have been grants from the state historic trust, there were agreements w/liens signed that guarantee those properties will be held as museums and “kept up” for posterity. The city can’t use them for anything else! So, it’s in the best interest of the city for those museum non-profits to make a go of it.
I totally endorse Museum Friends sentiments, but I would question who made the decision over the white elephant known as the “new” public pier near the light house in Havre de Grace.
There has never been enough water depth at that point to service anything with a draft of more than 4′, and that is probably on a high tide. At one point, back in unrecorded history I believe there were buildings about where the curent pier is.
Creating a fixed as opposed to a floating pier created an almost useless piece of heavyweight grant money. However, I would really like to know who made the original decision to even place a pier at that particular point. Somehow I suspect the City of making this decision, probably advised by the DNR and the Corps of Engineers who are extremely vigilant about protecting the grasses that foul all our boats. The Town of Port Deposit was forced to jump though many hoops to get a pier built, and still only have temporary permission to have a floating pier (about 14 days in any year) off the marina park,
I believe the new pier was moved about 40′ south from the original floating dock just off the lighthouse because there is a particularly barren spot there. Unfortunately it is built on a shoal, and therefore, even in a small power boat, extreme caution must be taken when approaching. It was evident even during the construction of the pier that there were problems as the construction barge could oftem be seen to be aground. No-one ever said anything because everyone assumed there would be a dredging exercise to make the pier usable. (Both The Martha Lewis and the Lantern Queen draw about 3’6″, but have to be extremely careful as, as licensed passenger vessels, any grounding has to be reported to the Coast Guard, and the vessel will need to be hauled and inspected before it can be returned to service.)
As a matter of interest, just to the north of the pier was an old slipway for a shipyard, back in the days when HdG built ships to fight the British. Similarly, just to the south of the maritime museum there was another slipway, in the cove that is almost totally silted over. The vessels constructed in those days as privateers had a draft of around 2 fathoms (6 feet) and there therfore had to be about 9′ depth to successfully launch a boat.
I guess the upshot proves the old addge of “too many cooks” to be true. By the time the various federal agencies, USCG , EPA and the Corps of Engineers have all had a toe in the water, the State will come along with the DNR, The Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Maryland Environmental Service has all had their say, there is so much silt in the water that the whole project gets driven aground.
Thank the Lord for small government! Well – you will, if ever you see it!
There is a tide of information behind the scenes. This is a play for power and control. I’m as upset as ever at the tone of Mary Ann’s letter and its threat to our institutions.
As always local knows local and bureaucracy looks down on local as subordanate. I support local control of local issues.
This issue can be as destructive to the TRAIL as to the Museums if a solution to the grievances on both ends are not found. This cannot be a dictatorship.
Go Dagger !
Common Knowledge says
Museum Friend and Coledata:
The LSHG did not pay for the new transient pier at the Lighthouse. They had nothing to do with it. That was mostly paid for by the DNR. And as far as the location goes……that was Fraley’s decision.
Museum Friend says
Oh, au contraire, Common Knowledge! There was some serious switcharooing with the money for that pier. LSHG partnered with the city to get funding. Money doesn’t ever come “FROM” LSHG, it comes “THROUGH” the LSHG. The organization is an advocacy and clearinghouse for funding. So, you’re right that it was DNR money that paid for most of the pier, but it came in via LSHG.
Cole Data, according to the info from the Skipjack and Lantern Queen folks, the boats draw about 4.5 feet. The Skipjack will not even attempt to dock at the new pier. The Lantern Queen has docked there on several occasions, but has to pull in headed south (toward the yacht basin) and then back out the same direction it came, because of the shoaling on the right (south) side of the pier. Also, the LQ folks said that the only reason they can use that pier at all is the versatile winched gangway that they can pivot at almost any angle. I know I saw it docked there during the launch of the smart buoy and the gangway ramp was at such a crazy angle that they had a crew member helping people aboard.
From LSHG’s own website: “The Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway (LSHG) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to stimulate local economic activity by developing a linkage between our natural, historic and cultural resources. This linkage is a series of land and water recreational trails that weave our past into our future while promoting an understanding and appreciation for the character of this region.
As part of a statewide system of Heritage Areas, the LSHG is responsible for implementing a local management plan targeting our waterfront communities. Our 40 million dollar business plan is designed to be a catalyst for capital investment; therefore we are building the public / private partnerships necessary for regional revitalization.”
Seems to me that to be effective both counties and the various towns/cities bordering the greenway need to learn to play together and help promote the whole area. Does anyone know how much Perryville or Port Deposit gives to LSHG?
$3000 and $0 respectively as far as I know.
Museum Friend says
Anybody have a figure on how much $$ in grant money each jurisdiction has received over the past year, 5 years?
In the council meeting this week Allen Fair…the owner of many of the buildings in HDG and the same guy who seems to think , based upon his own words, that parts of HDG are inhabited by low lives stated…..”if the city doesn’t re-instate the 12 grand ill pay it myself “!
What Mr Fair forgot to mention is that he’s the president of the heritage trail and that money would go to operating expenses…in other words…HIS OWN SALREY !
Heritage trail…a piece of advice….stop digging the hole your digging into !
Go Dagger !
I would like to see the amounts paid to the directors and executives at the LSHT.
See exactly where our money goes.
Go Dagger !
Museum Friend says
To be fair, Allen Fair does not draw a salary from either the LSHG or the Heritage Trail group. And while Allen lives comfortably because of his business successes in Havre de Grace, he is also a very generous but quiet philantropist. In this little “adventure” Allen is certainly NOT at fault.