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Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley backs new City Dock recommendations - and makes a few of his own

Date: Capital Gazette, January 29, 2018, Danielle Ohl

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley threw his support behind a study from the Urban Land Institute, released Tuesday.

The report, a result of two days of interviews with residents, lawmakers and business owners, suggests Annapolis should preserve the existing “envelope” of buildings near City Dock, but move forward with development that would honor the city’s working-class maritime history and attract visitors to the waterfront.

Buckley held a Market House news conference Tuesday alongside Historic Annapolis President Robert Clark — perhaps for the first time since Buckley crashed Clark’s conference announcing Annapolis as one of the country’s most endangered districts.

The city and the nonprofit are partners, Buckley said, in the vision for City Dock, to be guided by the Urban Land Institute recommendations.

The conference marks progress from last spring, when Historic Annapolis balked after Buckley introduced legislation changing the zoning along the downtown waterfront. The change would have loosened restrictions on height and bulk along City Dock, but failed to pass the council.

After the failed effort, discussions of a mid-rise hotel on Dock Street dampened and Historic Annapolis invited a panel of Urban Land Institute experts to interview community stakeholders and assess conditions.

Buckley called the plan the city’s new gold standard.

The report recommends maintaining the size and scale of buildings along City Dock, creating a park to link the Market House with the water, establishing a remote parking program and hiring a resilience officer within city government.

Historic Annapolis chose Eileen Fogarty, former city planning and zoning director, and Jim Reid, a recently retired executive with CBRE real estate to lead an action committee, which will help implement the report’s recommendations. Reid is also vice chairman of the Historic Annapolis board of trustees.

“(Reid) has a wealth of knowledge, nationally and internationally, on economic development,” said Karen Theimer Brown, the Historic Annapolis vice president of preservation. “And Eileen has worked on historic seaport towns on both coasts.”

Fogarty and Reid will begin searching for community members to serve on the action committee.

Buckley at the conference also announced his intentions to purchase the Capt. William H. Burtis house from the state. The Burtis House houses the Sailing Hall of Fame which will be relocating to Newport, R.I. No date has been announced for that move.

The city has been lobbying state lawmakers as well as Gov. Larry Hogan to surplus the historic waterman’s home. The house can be used to test some recreational paddle-board or kayaking rentals, but is also a key connector to the Naval Academy and any potential seawalls they might erect.

The state, by law, has to offer the property to other state entities first, but could sell the house to Annapolis if those agencies don’t bite, said chief of staff Susy Smith.

The Urban Land Institute report recommends relocating the harbormaster’s office to the Burtis house, while expanding the structure to include a museum.

The report also recommends expanding the marina near the Burtis house to accommodate large yachts and other boats, potentially generating revenue for the city.

Buckley, in the meantime, has a few ideas for drawing grass and feet to the area now hosting asphalt and wheels.

He said he’d like to see stand-up paddleboard rentals run out of the Burtis house. He’s floated taking away a row of parking to install a temporary beach, bocce ball courts and other recreational activities near the water.

Ironically, he invoked Henry Ford — the founder of the Ford Motor Company — in calling on the gathered residents to kick cars off City Dock.

“If everyone is moving forward together,” he quoted Ford, “then success takes care of itself.”

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