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Main Street businesses meet to discuss next steps on bike lane

| September 20, 2018, 05:03 PM

About a dozen merchants from downtown Annapolis met at Eyes On Main for a meeting this morning to discuss the recent addition to Main Street–the bike track, the expanded sidewalks, and just this morning… 40 cafe tables.

To put it bluntly, they are pissed off and want the City Council to do something about it. The general consensus was that the Mayor is embarking on large scale changes without the proper (or legal) authority and without the input of the constituents. The merchants cited the notice they received about the bike lane one day prior to construction beginning.

Those in attendance included:

McBride Gallery
Storm Brothers Ice Cream
Back Creek Books
O’Briens Oyster Bar
Ward One Alderwoman
Ron George Jewelers
Annapolis City Economic Development
WR Chance Jewelers
Eyes On Main
Eyes on Main
The Big Cheese
Suggestions as to what to do ranged from “pick it all up and put it back the way it was right now” to “we have to have a recall election to remove the Mayor from office.”
The main issues revolved around the lack of discussion and notification, and the removal of the 36 parking spaces. Many agreed with Rick Lepski (Eyes On Main) when he said that if his customers perceive that parking is difficult, they will simply go elsewhere. Bruce Chance (WR Chance Jewelers) questioned the lost revenue in parking as the meters turn over several times a day and revenue the City will lose as they are providing businesses with vouchers for 2 hours of free parking in the City garages. Rock Toews (Back Creek Books) discussed the lack of any type of measurement as to the success or failure of the experiment. Ron George (Ron George Jewelers) was upset at how “sneaky” the Mayor was with the project and only notifying the merchants the day before construction was to begin. Alderwoman Tierney (City of Annapolis Ward 1 Alderwoman) suggested that the bike lane might be a red herring to facilitate permanent sidewalk dining and drinking. Most agreed that they had  seen very little use of the lane by bikers; however it is still not 100% complete. Sveinn Storm (Storm Brothers Ice Cream) has sent a letter (below) to the City Attorney demanding answers on what he alleges was an illegal Alcohol Beverage Commission meeting hastily called by the Mayor and questioned that the forms for all the restaurants were filled in with the same handwriting.

Download (PDF, 103KB)

This morning saw the addition of the bistro tables and chairs. These are lightweight aluminum tables from Home Depot and according to the Mayor are available for anyone to use, not just restaurant customers. Which brought up another concern that the panhandlers and homeless that congregate around West Street and Church Circle might use the tables and dissuade customers. One attendee had concerns about the revelers from the bars would take up residence at the tables.

Lepski has questioned City Hall on the liability of the extended sidewalk and tables. He is concerned that in the case of an accident, does the liability fall on him (similar to ice or snow on a sidewalk) or the City? To date, there has been no answer and he made it a point to move the two tables in front of Eyes On Main to adjacent stores.

A curious undercurrent was perceived harassment by City Hall. Storm noted that none of the restaurants named in the cafe permits presented to the Alcohol Beverage Commission were present and none have spoken up in favor (or opposed) to the bike lane and extended sidewalks. Others suggested that they might be intimidated by City Hall and their hold on their liquor licenses.

The ABC postponed a decision on the sidewalk cafes until October 3rd, which according to Alderwoman Tierney will likely give the Mayor the ability to extend the 30 day test through at least November 3rd.
So what’s next?
At 7pm at the corner of Main Street and Church Circle, local businessman, Ron George, is organizing a protest of the bike lane and extended sidewalks. He will provide signs but encourages people to make their own. He is asking people to meet at the intersection and remain there until the Lighted Bike Parade (next paragraph) passes.
At 8pm at the Knighton Garage, Mayor Buckley will lead a lighted bike parade down West Street into Church Circle, down the Main Street bike lane, and ending at City Dock. People are encouraged to decorate their bikes with battery powered lights–think Eastport Yacht Club’s Lights Parade only not on the water!
The Mayor is planning a “Ride In” from 10am to 1pm on Saturday. He just sent out a broadcast email from his campaign asking supporters to bring bikes, rent bikes, or walk and show that the residents overwhelmingly support the initiative. The “Ride In” begins at the Whitmore Urban Park on Calvert Street at 11am and will proceed around Church Circle, down the new bike lane to City Dock. The event will end at 1pm. If you support the bike lane and extended sidewalks get in this line.
A protest of the bike lane organized by “an individual” will take place at City Dock beginning at 2pm. If you are opposed to the bike lane and extended sidewalks, get in this line.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion. Give our anonymous talk-back/tip line a call and let us know (it’s a voicemail only number). 443-266-3600. Leave a message or you can send a text!

Severn Bank

Category: Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with

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