Historic panel puts off Main Street vote

October 12, 1994|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

Plans to grant final approval to the reconstruction of Main Street in downtown Annapolis were delayed yesterday when the Historic District Commission postponed consideration of the matter for at least two more weeks.

The $5 million rebricking and redesign project is awaiting approval by the commission, which is considering how the plan will affect traffic patterns and pedestrian flow down the city's central artery. The commission put off discussion of the project to give city dwellers more time to voice their concerns about the new design.

Tuesday afternoon, a residents group met with engineers and city officials to try to change the reconstruction plan. The group predicts severe bottlenecks and delays if the street is squeezed into two lanes at one of its busiest intersections. Currently, Market Space, Compromise and Green streets converge into three lanes, but the city's proposal carves that area into two lanes to allow for wider sidewalks.

Construction, set to begin in January, will be paid for with city and state dollars. But before the state can kick in its $2.5 million, the commission must sign off on the plan. That deadline makes some city officials nervous.

"The delay -- that is a realistic problem," said Michael Mallinoff, chief of staff to Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins. If the commission does not grant its approval by next month, he said, the state money may be in jeopardy.

The rebricking and replacement of underground utilities on Main Street will begin in January. Main Street will be closed to traffic during the yearlong project. Aside from rebricking and redesigning lanes, the plan would replace the street's underground utilities, create new parking spaces, revamp the landscaping and widen the sidewalks.

Mr. Mallinoff said the city will hold a meeting tomorrow afternoon to allow members of the community, the Historic District Commission and the City Council to voice their concerns and offer suggestions. Mr. Mallinoff said the city is willing to change some aspects of the redesign.

"For the mayor, this is one of his crown jewels," Mr. Mallinoff said. "None of us want this to fail."

Although historic preservationists, merchants and city dwellers all have gripes about the street's face-lift, Mr. Mallinoff looks on the bright side.

"No one's come out and said they're going to sue us or take us to court or anything like that," he said. "There are some differing opinions, but there may be some ways to assuage some concerns."

The project will be conducted in two phases. One phase will be from Conduit Street to Church Circle, and the other from Conduit Street to Green Street. City officials have not yet decided which phase will come first.

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