Council considers waiving parking fees ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

April 27, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Hurt by the lingering economic downturn on Annapolis' West Street, business owners last night urged the City Council to waive a set of required parking transfer fees.

The city began charging developers, building owners and restaurateurs who were expanding their properties a "parking transfer fee" several years ago in an attempt to create more off-street parking in its historic downtown.

But business owners along West Street said they cannot afford the fees at a time when they're struggling with high vacancy rates.

Meanwhile, the city's recently completed Gotts Court Garage, one block from West Street, is rarely full. The garage was built by floating municipal bonds.

"In the eyes of the business community, the transfer fee is a disincentive to the future economic improvement along the Inner West Street corridor," said Penny Chandler, director of the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce. She was one of several business people who testified last night.

The council is considering waiving the fees along West Street and refunding to business owners and developers the estimated $350,000 that has been collected.

Alderman John Hammond, a Ward 1 Republican, pointed out that the proposal is unfair to business owners paying parking transfer fees in other sections of the city.

"I'm going to get a rebate, yet my buddy in West Annapolis gets nothing. What's the equity in this?" he asked.

The council also debated late into the night Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' proposed $11 million capital improvement plan for the next fiscal year.

At a hearing Friday night, Dennis Callahan, the city's former mayor, questioned the proposed purchase of a 7.6-acre property off Admiral Drive for a future park. Mr. Callahan said he considered the $1.6 million price too high and asked whether the city could afford taking the property off the tax rolls. The land is now owned by WNAV, a local radio station.

The council's Finance Committee recommended that the administration widen its search for future park sites.

Also last night, community leaders in private meetings with council members asked them to include $100,000 in the proposed capital budget for a memorial statue to Alex Haley.

Several weeks after Mr. Haley died last February, friends and fans of the author proposed paying him tribute with a seated, life-size statue at Annapolis' City Dock.

Mr. Haley wrote his best-selling book, "Roots," tracing his family history to an ancestor, Kunta Kinte, who was led ashore in chains in Annapolis.

A plaque, often missed by tourists, marks the spot where Kunta Kinte stepped ashore from the slave ship Lord Ligonier in 1767.

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