SAVE THE ANNAPOLIS PLAYGROUND
  • Petitioned Alderman Richard Israel

This petition was delivered to:

Alderman, Ward One
Alderman Richard Israel
Alderwoman, Ward Four
Sheila M. Finlayson
Alderwoman, Ward Three
Dr. Classie G. Hoyle
Mayor of Annapolis
Josh Cohen
Alderman, Ward Eight
Ross H. Arnett, III

SAVE THE ANNAPOLIS PLAYGROUND

    1. Chris Stelzig
    2. Petition by

      Chris Stelzig

      Annapolis, MD

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.

With questions, please contact ilovemyaes@gmail.com.

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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.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. VICTORY!

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      Today, in a vote of 8-0 with one abstention (Mr Peterson works for the city of Annapolis) the AA Board of Education voted to decline to sign an MOU with the city to develop a parking garage on this public land. We are gratified and heartened that reason has reigned supreme today. I am also pleased and proud of my town ... so many civic-minded men, women, and children who stepped up and engaged in the process of protecting open space. Next steps: If you have not already done so, I'd encourage you to sign on to two groups: Citizens for a Better Annapolis (President, Heather Hurtt) at www.savetheannapolisplayground.org -- I'm sure that the group will move to a new site at some point. This is a group committed to making the much-discussed renovations of city dock a reality. I'd also suggest hooking up with Jim Martin's Friends of Annapolis Parks, a new group (Facebook) that has similar missions to ours -- preserving public space! Thanks to ALL who engaged in this process. What a team!

    2. Public Testimony Hearing on Monday

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      This is your chance. Finally. After the months of closed door sessions and 'emergency meetings' where only the developers are allowed to speak, here is your chance. Please make every attempt to come out and shoot this idea down. We will have a picket line outside of the courthouse starting at 6:30 and testimony inside starting with the beginning of the meeting at 7.

    3. More delays ...

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      The City Council last night met in emergency session and .... did nothing. They heard from the developer who pitched the same proposal and Doug Smith who was the only person allowed to testify "as a private citizen." So much for democracy.

    4. Mayor backs off ...

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      The mayor has backed off of the proposal for a downtown garage. Council remains another matter. Be sure to come to the rally on Monday at 4pm to give us your ideas to make a better Annapolis.

    5. RALLY!

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      There will be a rally at the playground on April 16th at 4pm. Hope to see you there.

    6. Reached 2,000 signatures
    7. City Council to discuss garage conceptually

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      I just got this email from the mayor ... "Hi Chris. Tomorrow at 10:30 the City Council will hold a work session to review and discuss the conceptual plans for the parking garage and playground proposal. No public testimony will be taken but the meeting is open to the public. It also will be recorded and will be uploaded to our website by next week."
      UPDATE -- This was postponed. I will advise you when it is rescheduled.

    8. Board of Ed meeting TODAY (2.15.2012) -- 1:00pm

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      I sent an email to all petitioners yesterday asking if you could come to the BOE meeting today to show support for our anti-garage petition. The change.org servers take a LONG time to send though, and I am still not sure that they sent! SO .....

      If you CAN come today to support our petition, please do so. The BOE will reconvene at 1:00pm today in the Parham Building on Riva Road. We're the first item on the agenda, so you can show your support and then get back to work. A former AES PTA president will speak on behalf of the PTA and all who support the petition are asked to stand in support.

      If possible, please wear green to show support for the Green Street community.

    9. Deed may prove a problem for the city

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      The original deed to the playground was published in today's Capital. It was written in the early 1900's and clearly states that the land is intended to be a playground for the children of Annapolis. While the actual language is archaic and discriminatory, the intent remains clear -- this is not land that should be used for this purpose.

    10. Petition reopened

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      I chose to reopen this petition because (a) enough people asked me to, (b) the problem still exists. The mayor and The Capital have both posted pieces in strong support of this garage. And while we have assurances that there will continue to be a playground, that misses the larger point. SHOULD there be a garage? SHOULD it be next to an elementary school? SHOULD we not investigate all options before choosing this radical path?

    11. Reached 1,500 signatures
    12. City planning meeting

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      The City of Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning, together with the City Dock Advisory Committee, Planning Commission, and Historic Preservation Commission are hosting a public presentation on January 19, 2012 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.

      The presentation is titled "Getting Around Downtown: Scenarios for Improvements" and will look at several recommendations to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as well as to manage traffic congestion while preserving parking and loading zones that are most essential to local business. Two specific scenarios for improvements to Memorial Circle that have been analyzed will be shown and discussed, as well as other suggestions for improving public space and the pedestrian environment.

    13. Board of Education meeting on Wednesday 1.18.2012

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      I will present the petitioners to the BOE meeting tomorrow night. While the Mayor has made public testimony to ensuring an AES playground, we do not yet have this commitment from the BOE. Public participation is encouraged by the Board so if you feel strongly about this issue, please come out and make your voice heard. The location and time are in the link below.

    14. Long blog post from the Mayor regarding the garage

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      Yesterday the Mayor blogged about the history of how the city got to this point regarding the potential development of a downtown garage. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'd say after reading it that he seems to be strongly in favor of the garage (though not necessarily this proposal) and he says that he is a strong advocate for a downtown playground, though not necessarily THIS playground.

      I think that we have a commitment from him at this point to ensure that AES has a playground when all is said and done. At this point I think that our happy family of 1,300+ petitioners will likely split into various camps. The issues seem to be:

      1) Should there be a new garage on this plot of land. The Mayor and The Capital seem to say yes.

      2) Ensuring that the children of AES have a playground. This seems to be a solved issue now.

      3) What do we do about THIS existing playground? This is still very much in the air and is incompatible with a parking garage of any size/capacity.

    15. An OpEd from The Capital in support of the garage

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      From today's paper ... please see the link below. This is a large enough community of 1180 petitioners (and counting) that I won't presume to speak for all. I'd just say that MY personal views are (a) we need a vibrant and financially healthy city. Adequate parking for downtown retail is a part of that, (b) the appropriate groundwork must be laid to determine if THIS is the right way to get that parking or are there other less-intrusive alternatives that could be considered, (c) the children of Annapolis (who hold the deed to the playground and basketball court -- or so I have been told) deserve adequate greenspace for playgrounds, and (d) the safety and recreation of the students of Annapolis Elementary School must not be compromised in the pursuit of commerce.

      If you feel strongly about this issue I'd encourage you to write a letter to the editor of The Capital. The address is tmarquardt@capitalgazette.com.

    16. Response from the Mayor.

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      Here is the word from the mayor ....

    17. Reached 1,000 signatures
    18. Alderman Arnett responds ...

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      My first response from a political figure: "Thanks for your email. Both the School board and the City are aware of the playground issue and we are working on ways to make provision for it while considering a new garage."

      This is a good step, but I think we'd all like our assurances a little stronger than that. I replied with a suggestion from a landscape architect friend who says "A condition of allowing a private developer to build on this key public site should be to replace all existing program elements. Build a green roof that could include a similar or better playground and park on the top and this could be aligned with the first floor of the school."

      -cjs

    19. Reached 750 signatures
    20. No response from Mayor yet

      Chris Stelzig
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to all who have supported this so far. As some of you may know I am the President of the Annapolis Elementary School PTA and so this issue strikes me as ludicrous on several levels.

      110 signatures in less than 24 hours is pretty telling that trashing our only city playground to build a parking garage is a bad idea. I have several calls in to the Mayor's office requesting a fifteen minute meeting but thusfar have not even received a call back. I'll keep trying. If you want to try and set up your own meeting, the mayor's phone number is 410-263-7997.

      Please be sure to ask your local Annapolitans to sign this petition too. The next step is to present our petitioners list to the School Board at a budget meeting on the 18th of January. I'd like to have over 1,000 signatures by then.

      -Chris

    21. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Kristine Guttag ANNAPOLIS, MD
      • almost 2 years ago

      This is the only park in downtown Annapolis that is within easy walking distance of the Docks. It is convenient to visitors as well as local residents. The existing parking garage always seems to have empty spaces available. I DO NOT believe that another garage is necessary. I think that the park location for a garage will hinder traffic.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • richard oaten GENIS, FRANCE
      • almost 2 years ago

      elected officials must by reason of having the support of the electorate either follow their wishes or properly explain their reasoning. What I do not see from this distance if there are commercial interests or gains, and if so for who or whom.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Constance Robinson ANNAPOLIS, MD
      • almost 2 years ago

      Because we need to retain green space to keep the pleasure of nature in our City -- for both children, their families, and visitors! Let people park their cars at the stadium and take the trolley into town. Or, walk across the Spa Creek Bridge into town! So many more options than removing the playground/park area. We have lived in Annapolis City and County since 1972, and our children loved that play area even before the modern play equipment was added. Where else can we relax in a shaded area? In fact, our City needs to plant more trees! NYC has a goal of 100,000 new trees a year! What is our Mayor's goal!?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anna Rubin AUSTIN, TX
      • almost 2 years ago

      I grew up visiting Annapolis. And loving it. It would be a shame if the city became a town only for adult tourists - never mind the young tourists or residents of the town!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Laura Bell BURWELL, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 2 years ago

      I grew up with this playground. My son played on ths playground until we moved. Many happy Annapolis memories were from this playground

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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