City Dock work isn't merely cosmetic
By GARY JOBSON and DICK D'AMATO
Annapolis' City Dock is about to undergo a vital face-lift, highlighting
its importance to the economy and vitality of downtown Annapolis,
and its role as a centerpiece of our community and culture.
The timing is critical. Our city center is facing multiple challenges
for dollars and attention, not only from new and striking projects
on West Street, such as Park Place, but from a whole new town center
at the site of the former Parole Plaza.
So City Dock must reinvent itself to retain drawing power for families,
students and retirees, as well as newly arriving groups.
At least $9 million is being dedicated to a major renovation of the
guts of the dock itself: its face, pilings and foundation. This should
stabilize it for decades to come.
Other initiatives are under way that promise to beautify and open
up the area. Anchoring the north end of the dock will be the soaring
national Sailing Hall of Fame. The facility will be designed to be
interactive. It will educate one and all on the history of sailing
and its place in the life of our bay.
A nationwide effort is under way to fund this vision. The effort
is led by a dedicated group of Annapolis sailors and community leaders
and a host of luminaries. Walter Cronkite is the honorary chairman
of its advisory committee.
In addition, a proposed redesign of the water side of the Naval Academy
Visitors Center would allow access to City Dock. This would add space
and serve as a new connection between the town and the academy.
State-of-the-art racing sailboats - such as the Whitbread Race boat Chessie and
other classic boats - will tie up at new piers on the northern end
of the dock.
Gone will be the ugly rows of parking meters and garbage bins to
the seaward side of the dockmaster's house, courtesy of an upcoming
line item in Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's city budget.
In their place: a parking area, not of asphalt, but of a new environmentally
friendly artificial surface. This area will do double duty for new
events. It will be a city plaza for cultural attractions - musical,
ceremonial, community, sporting or otherwise.
All this is just the beginning. There's plenty of room for creativity
regarding our waterfront's many roles and uses - including the use
of "Ego Alley," the waterway jutting through the city
This was once the mooring place of the bay's historic working and
pleasure watercraft. Now it's merely a parking place for a collection
of nondescript vessels lucky to get a spot at bargain-basement rates.
It's time for a renewed use of the waterway to show off the historic
sailing, crabbing, oystering and other pleasure craft that have been
such a proud part of the Chesapeake tradition.
City Dock can be enhanced as a community magnet - a centerpiece for
cultural and family activities - if we choose to take advantage of
We are encouraged by the recent creation of a citizens' group to
explore the city's long-term prospects, and we hope City Dock will
be a special focus of the group's activities.
The mayor should establish a citizens body to examine anew this location's
exhilarating potential. It should enlist all generations of Annapolitans
in creating a continuing vision for City Dock.
Gary Jobson, an Annapolis resident, is a sailing commentator
on ESPN, and an author and lecturer. Dick D'Amato, an Annapolis attorney,
is a former state delegate from District 30. Both are on the board
of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
Published February 18, 2007, The
Capital, Annapolis, Md.