A Capital editorial on June 5 in support of change on the City Dock was a bit misleading. The editors refer to a 4-story hotel when in fact the architect has designed a 6/7 story hotel with underground parking, bus turnaround and a bathing beach on the dock. Additionally the first piece of proposed legislation called for lifting the Historic District height ordinance. Both realities are inconsistent with a vision of a 4-story hotel.
My observation is that most people support a revitalized City Dock area sans a parking lot originally purchased 50 years ago by the City to protect the city from a ring of high rise hotels. The parking lot has served its purpose. Now, with new building standards and controls, it is time for a new look.
However , the City had the opportunity to create an artful streetscape supporting economic revitalization envisioned in the Comp plan when the harbor bulkheads were under construction. Instead the past administration shelved that plan. The media and businesses were silent.
While most people express concern about more mega development along the dock a change to MX Zoning would probably be just fine. Selling City property also leaves the city vulnerable to control along its popular water city center.
A new bill that changes zoning, maintains the height ordinance, leases city property (not sell) would probably have the support of the public. A substantive economic analysis, a program for parking, Hillman garage redo, agreement on the Burtis House owned by the State, and a realistic dock design that builds on the City’s historic assets in the arts and maritime history should be underway now.
With smart planning ,listening to the public and inspirational vision that builds on the City’s assets, the dock area will be revitalized. Too much time has been wasted on the art of the deal.
–Ellen O. Moyer
Note: Ellen Moyer is a former Mayor of the City of Annapolis