June 15, 2024
Annapolis, US 73 F

LETTER: City Dock Leaders Hope You’re Stupid!

After attending the City Dock Revitalization Plan presentation last week, I have come to a pretty simple conclusion.  The people in charge aren’t stupid, but they sure do think you are.

The meeting did not leave time for questions from the audience, which may have been wise on their part, or else people may have pointed out one of the myriad problems.  Indeed, at one point during the presentation, I heard a woman say to the man she was there with, “stay calm, you can ask about it later.”  He did not, in fact, have time to ask about it later.

The most egregious lines came from the mayor himself, unsurprisingly.  He began the meeting by touting the success of the Hillman Garage, highlighting how great it is, and how fast it was erected.  That may be true, but there is another side to that story.  To finance the garage, we residents have been saddled with an onerous parking system.  We have to pay a fee for everyone who stops by, no matter how long the stay, and have to do so online.  Nothing makes a guest feel more welcome than, “hey, before you sit down, what’s your license plate?” as you disappear to your computer and try to remember this month’s alphanumeric code.  The enforcement of parking violations decreased.  We are overrun in the evenings with visitors to bars and restaurants and during the day by contractors.  We went from patrol cars with plate readers to two officers on foot, manually checking each plate.  If that isn’t government efficiency, I don’t know what is. 

The mayor ended the meeting by saying that his entire administration has been focused on benefits to residents, citing dining under the stars on West Street as an example.  Right, because when I think of a policy that benefits residents, the first one that comes to mind is the one that has a direct and positive financial impact on the mayor’s restaurants that, by sheer coincidence, are on West Street.

Several speakers mentioned how great the park would be for kids, explaining that being family-friendly is why we need the wildly expensive fountain.  This was presented while the meeting tent reeked of weed being smoked all around us on City Dock.  The speakers also reminisced about how great it was to booze at City Dock when underage. So, we need a fountain to make City Dock more family-friendly, but also it’s a great place to smoke pot and drink.  Got it.  But don’t worry, there will be ping pong!  Because ping pong next to water with gusts of wind is everyone’s favorite pastime.

There was a great little part from a descendant of Alex Haley.  He presented a plan to honor other black Americans around City Dock, rather than just Haley.  If I remember correctly, he said, “My uncle is lonely!”  Given the role of Maryland and Annapolis in both slavery and the civil rights movement, this is undoubtedly a great idea.  But one can’t help but appreciate the irony that City Dock will also continue to be full of kids joyriding Bird scooters filled with cobalt mined by enslaved Congolese children today.  Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.

Perhaps the wildest contradiction was the explanation that an electrical box would be removed from near the water’s edge to improve the view of the Severn River.  That makes sense, but then we were also told that two new large buildings would be built next to the Burtis House in the exact location, completely destroying any view at all.  But hey, it will have an oyster bar on top, which most definitely will not be run by a certain well-connected restauranteur.  

In the end, they aren’t stupid.  They know these plans are contradictory or foolish.  But they don’t care, and they count on you not realizing.  Consultants will be paid, and big contracts will be awarded (where will the money come from?), new businesses will be started, and a ribbon cutting will be on page one above the fold of The Capital.  No thought has been given to making it family-friendly in reality, not just on paper.  No one cares that the main issue, resiliency, seems to be taking a back seat to this “ambitious” plan. Maintenance is an afterthought. And there is no worry about the money not going to help with desperately needed policing and violence prevention that has plagued the city over the past few years.  But, there was a march to end gun violence, so I guess problem solved!

-Ward 1 Resident

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