Bernard C. “Jack” Young kicked off his first week as acting Baltimore mayor by lobbying the Maryland General Assembly to kill a bill that could direct state funding to Laurel Park.
Young, the city council president who became ex officio mayor when Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave of absence for health reasons, visited with the Baltimore City delegation Thursday morning and fired off letters to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, seeking their help.
He targeted House and Senate bills that would allow the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to provide the Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park, with bonds to fund improvements at Laurel Park and the Bowie Race Course Training Center, but not Pimlico, home to the Preakness Stakes.
The bills are sponsored by Del. Mark S. Chang and Senator Pamela G. Beidle, Anne Arundel County democrats who’s districts include Laurel Park.
Young says the bills would be “the final nail in the coffin” and lay the groundwork for Stronach to “move the Preakness from Baltimore.”
While lawmakers outside of the city have pushed legislation that directs funding to Laurel, Pugh and other Baltimore officials including Young have been touting a $400 million proposal that would redevelop Pimlico and the surrounding Park Heights neighborhood.
Young visited the state capitol in Annapolis twice since he became acting mayor and made it clear that Pimlico is a big priority of his. He told reporters Thursday that he thinks Governor Larry Hogan could issue an executive order that would essentially make Stronach formally discuss Pimlico’s future with Baltimore elected officials.
“I'm going to speak to the governor,” Young said. “I don't know whether he's going to accept it or not. But if you do an executive order there would be no need for this bill.”
Hogan has not commented on Young’s idea of an executive order. On Thursday morning, Young said he planned to speak with Hogan later in the afternoon at the Orioles’ opening day celebrations.
Other Maryland lawmakers, including Delegate Cheryl Glenn, have told Young they want to keep the Triple Crown’s middle jewel in Baltimore.
“We'll work with you,” Glenn told him. “And we want to be in the fight with you as we are for the Preakness. We're not going to throw in the white flag. And so, anything you need from us, I'm ready to call together the city delegation.”
The remain mired in their respective committees and it seems increasingly unlikely the General Assembly will act on them before its session ends at midnight Monday.