March 25, 2023
Annapolis, US 48 F

Task Force on public works land swap releases less than favorable initial report

NOTE:  Public hearing and testimony. September 3 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Pip Moyer Recreation Center. 

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley halted construction on the re-building of the Public Works facility shortly after taking office. He has proposed a land-swap with the owner of a 4 acre parcel along Forest Drive to house the public works facility that has been operating out of several locations for several years. The current location is 12 acres.

Essentially, public works will consolidate operations to the vacant lot just to the east of the American Legion on Forest Drive, and the Spa Road site would be available to a developer to build single family homes and townhomes. The Mayor has said that part of this swap would include pedestrian bridges across Forest Drive and Spa Road to connect a network of trails in the City. However, the developer has yet to commit to this, or even the land swap. Additionally, the task force found out that the County would not allow (currently) a bridge over Forest Drive.

The Council was poised to move forward with authorizing this in the Spring and Alderwoman Finlayson had many concerns and moved for the establishment of a task force to study the pros and the cons.  This was voted on and approved by the Council and former Alderman Jared Littmann was selected as the chair.

This is a link to their initial report.

Some of the excerpts from the report do not seem to favor the land swap.  Consider the following:

Business Community
But, when participants were asked the ultimate question: “Overall, would you recommend moving the facility to Forest Drive?” 28% of participants said “Yes” and 72% said “No”.”

The respondents are 100% supportive of rebuilding at Spa Road and against building at Forest Drive.

The only easement required at the Forest Drive site is over a portion of the American Legion property. The commandant of the American Legion Chapter has indicated that they are interested in improvements to their parking lot, re-roofing their building and construction of a memorial garden in return for use of the portion of their property for a driveway onto Newtowne Drive.

Fuel Station to remain under both circumstances.

The proposal for relocation of the DPW to Forest Drive includes many suggested community benefits, including: a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Forest Drive and Spa Road; upgrade of the American Legion facility; construction of a new park at Spa Road; and upgrade and relocation of the athletic fields at Spa Road. It is important to understand whether these benefits are in fact possible because they have a large impact on the desirability of the Forest Drive proposal. In reviewing the information provided to date, the subcommittee concludes that the above suggested benefits either do not appear feasible or there is not enough information in which to determine whether they are feasible.

The subcommittee notes that it is critically important for the City to make public the feasibility of the pedestrian bridges. To date, no information has been provided about the grant funds which would be the source of funds for construction of the bridges, including: the type of grants the City plans to pursue; the amount they plan to request; the timing for receipt of the grants; and the likelihood of receiving the grant funding. Additionally, the City has not consulted with structural engineers nor have they met with the County, who has jurisdiction over Forest Drive. Based on current information, the County will not allow a pedestrian bridge over Forest Drive. The Subcommittee believes the community at large is under the impression that pedestrian bridges would be part of the Forest Drive location proposal, when in fact there is no information to support that they are feasible.

Below is a video prepared by the Mayor’s Office regarding the swap:

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