Annapolis was an abandoned and dying town in the 1960’s when Annapolitans elected me Mayor. Main Street shops were vacant as store owners moved to the new Mall in Parole. Aldermen talked of paving the Harbor for parking. They voted 6-2 to tear down the Market House, a move supported by the Editor of the Capital Newspaper. Into this chaos came the Hilton Hotel whose executive said to me he intended to buy the entire waterfront not protected for the public trust.
I sided with Visionaries St Clair Wright, Paul Pearson, Arnie Gay, Ed Hartman, Jerry Hardesty, Harvey Poe and Hillyard Donner who believed the road to long term economic vitality rested with historic preservation and maritime interests. The controversy between the visionaries and the commercial business leaders was heated. After a 4 year battle it was finally resolved in the election of 1969 when the citizens of the city by a majority in every ward voted 2 to 1 in favor of an Historic District, the only one in the nation created by popular vote.
The new council quickly moved to acquire 5 parcels of land along the Harbor, the parking lots and parks you see today, and to pass height and bulk ordinances to sustain the city’s human scale. The move to economic recovery began. It took 3 decades for the City to achieve an AA+ bond rating. The accompanied fiscal analysis sited the historic District and the Maritime industry as the city’s economic glue. Today, thanks to yesterday’s visionaries, Annapolis is alive and vibrant.
Unfortunately, Mayor Cohen recommends new legislation to increase height and bulk restrictions and fragment maritime interests. He recommends privatizing public property. Both actions return this city to the conditions of the 1960’s and it’s potential economic despair.Roger “Pip” Moyer Former Mayor Eastport