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Robert Clark: The key to success of City Dock vision project is public participation

Date: Capital Gazette, October 20, 2018, Robert C. Clark

Historic Annapolis is partnering with the city of Annapolis to host an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the future of City Dock.  We invite you to share your thoughts with the panel at a one-hour community forum at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Annapolis City Hall council chambers. 

The successful redevelopment for City Dock is contingent upon significant public input. The purpose of this community forum is to hear from residents, business owners, and property owners about what you value about City Dock. Your input will help make City Dock a more engaging, vibrant part of the historic district.

As many of us know, through the mid-20th century, City Dock was a gritty, working seaport. A lumber yard, huge piles of oyster shells, oil tanks, gas stations and public restrooms dominated the landscape. Eventually, buildings fell into disrepair, the oyster business died, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built and the industrial character of the seaport changed.  

While a small park was added, City Dock was primarily used for parking from the 1960s on.

Mayor Gavin Buckley’s administration is committed to investigating that potential of City Dock and promoting improvements that will enhance this publicly shared space. Historic Annapolis is deeply committed to working with city leadership and the Annapolis community to craft preservation-based redevelopment concepts for the heart of our district.

Historic Annapolis is a key investor in our historic downtown. As the steward of 13 buildings in the historic district and a recognized leader in Annapolis’ heritage-tourism industry, we have a vested interest in the economic vitality of our capital city.

In 2011, Historic Annapolis was invited to participate on the City Dock Advisory Committee whose work resulted in the City Dock Master Plan. When additional studies were recommended for the plan’s implementation, we again partnered with the city, conducting a series of public forms entitled “What’s Your View?”  

The purpose of those forums was to re-engage community members and elected officials in the discussion on the redevelopment of City Dock with the intention of identifying and promoting actions to protect the authenticity of our city’s historic seaport, while at the same time promoting uses that would contribute to the economic revitalization of the area.

Historic Annapolis, in partnering with the city of Annapolis, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Maryland, will continue to foster the dialogue between city residents, business owners and others who value our historic City Dock. By bringing experienced regional and national leaders in development, real estate, transportation, economics and sustainability to the table, we hope to provide our city officials the additional guidance needed to move forward with implementation of the City Dock Master Plan.

The ULI panel will focus on the specific issues of flooding adaptation, parking alternatives, viewshed protection and redevelopment uses. Bring your voice into this important discussion on the future of our City Dock. Your views will be incorporated into the final ULI report which will be presented at 6 p.m. at the City Hall council chambers.

At Historic Annapolis, we support the public’s interest as an advocate for preservation-minded redevelopment. We have worked directly with hundreds of property owners since our founding in 1952 to promote historic preservation as both a cultural value and an economic imperative. With a city administration that is committed to making improvements to this historically-rich landscape, we see this as an opportunity to both protect and promote the history of City Dock. A key to the success of this joint effort is your participation.

The beauty and charm of our capital city is indisputable. We understand our responsibility to ensure that redevelopment is undertaken in a manner that protects and promotes the Annapolis experience — one that is authentic, rich with stories and ripe with opportunities for the public to engage.  Join us in planning a future for our past.

Robert Clark has served as the president and CEO of Historic Annapolis since September 2012. He currently serves on the boards of The Friends of St. John’s College and Visit Annapolis and is a member of the Annapolis Heritage Commission.

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