Vision for City Dock have changed, but consensus still needed
Date: Capital Gazette, August 8, 2018, Capital Gazette Editorial Board
Three years ago we published a series of stories on the future of downtown Annapolis that has proven to be strangely prescient.
We explored the need for a new vision, one that not only celebrated the city center’s important architectural and cultural history but also its status as a unique open space.
We called for pushing parking off City Dock, creating a place that would draw residents from across Annapolis and offering something more than just a spot where tourists stroll.
We doubt Mayor Gavin Buckley was inspired by our stories. Rather we think our reporters and editors did what good journalists should do, capture a shift in the public mood. Buckley was elected as a change agent last year, and he’s focused his desire for the new on City Dock.
But as staff writer Danielle Ohl’s recent story found, City Dock has not been just one thing. Its history includes oil tanks and ferry landings, oyster shucking and ship repairs. City Dock has been the face of Annapolis through good times and bad, and there have been many attempts to improve it.
Buckley’s plan calls for a hotel built in cooperation with private property owner Harvey Blonder, then leveraging that partnership to create more green space. The mayor proposes zoning changes to make this happen, an idea Historic Annapolis and others fear would imperil the cultural legacy of the area.
So Historic Annapolis has commissioned a new study of the City Dock area, led by the Urban Land Institute in Baltimore, to find common ground. It will be the third institute study to take stock of the downtown waterfront.
We remain convinced that a new vision is needed for the heart of Annapolis. Part of that change must come in the form of physical redevelopment, driven not only by commercial realities but also by the threat of sea level rise and increased flooding.
But if the mayor is to succeed in advancing his plan for downtown, he has to find consensus. He’s adopted redevelopment of City Dock as a key goal of his young administration. Buckley will tell you that if nothing happens there in his four years he will consider his term a failure.
The mayor can’t bull through his proposed changes, or maybe he can. But the outcome will be far more lasting if he can win buy-in to the concept from the various stakeholders — preservationists, merchants and companies such as Watermark and Annapolis Boat Shows. It includes not only Ward 1 residents but also residents of all of the wards and outlying neighborhoods.
Leadership is more than just having a vision. Buckley has to convince his city to join him on the journey.