On December 19th the City of Annapolis began the formal process to build a 450-space parking garage on Compromise Street (Resolution No. R-64-11 - http://www.ci.annapolis.md.us/Government/Council/Pending/Resolutions/R-64-11.pdf) in downtown Annapolis. The Capital covered the story in brief detail (http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/CAN/2011/12/20-51/Annapolis-Council-in-talks-on-City-Dock-parking-garage.html) but failed to mention that this project would be at the expense of the playground, the basketball court, and Newman Street Park - which the AES PTA helped to fund (http://bayweekly.com/old-site/year04/issuexii27/dockxii27.html).
At the most recent City Council meeting, two neighbors spoke out, asking that the so-called “Compromise Project” be amended to retain the playground, but the proposal stood as it was with no intention of maintaining a playground.
The proposal seeks to substitute “hard surface” play areas, accessed across Compromise Street or through an alley behind a 4(or 5)-story parking structure, for our city’s beloved playground. The Compromise Project builders, Compromise LLC, have been informed by the Anne Arundel County School Board that – if they get all the approvals necessary for the project – the parking garage would need to be completed during the planned renovation of Annapolis Elementary School, which is to begin construction in June.
It is urgent that neighbors, residents, and tourists who want to retain the playground where it is adjacent to Annapolis Elementary and just down the hill from St. Mary’s Elementary School, have a very small window of opportunity in which to implore Mayor Josh Cohen and the Annapolis City Council to amend their proposal to retain the playground.
It should be noted that the Garage Subcommittee recommended several other proposals for improved parking in and around Downtown Annapolis, including expanding Hillman garage, but the mayor and several alderman have chosen to introduce this plan instead.
Therefore, we the undersigned advocate for the maintenance of a public playground in downtown Annapolis and specifically for Annapolis Elementary School.
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UPDATE 1.28.2012: This petition was presented (including signatures and comments) to the Mayor and the sponsoring Aldermen in mid-January 2012. A copy was also presented to the Board of Educaiton during public testimony on 1.18. The petition was closed at that time. However, as the Mayor continues to advocate publicly for a garage (most recently in his vido blog -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqXn9yTcVgU&feature=youtu.be), it has become apparent that we need to continue to keep up the pressure that this is not the right approach.
From this point forward (Jan 28, 2012) and -- quite possibly it has been this all along -- this petition is about more than just saving the playground. It is about:
• Ensuring that the children of Annapolis Elementary School remain safe at all times and do not have to play in the shadow of a hulking parking garage,
• Making sure that the City Dock Advisory Group's subcommittee on parking has ample time to determine what the parking needs of the city actually are before rushing through with this plan,
• Forcing the city to review all possible options for solving whatever parking needs exist before creating a permanent structure that will forever alter the unique charm of our historic city.
Therefore, we the undersigned continue to advocate for the Newman Street Playground and all the accompanying issues that it represents.