Despite concerns about funding, residents and business owners in the Inner West Street corridor last night urged the Annapolis city council to proceed with an $8 million revitalization plan.
With the council poised to vote next month on how much money will be pumped into the project, members of the community pledged to help city officials find the necessary funding to improve the rundown street from Church Circle to Amos Garrett Boulevard.
"Stick to your guns," said Bertina Nick, chairwoman of the Clay Street Revitalization Committee, who believes that the improvements might help reduce crime in her neighborhood. "We'll help you raise the money."
Michael E. Parker, a resident of the nearby Presidents Hill community, told council members: "I am an investor in West Street and so are my neighbors. The improvements will attract new residents."
At the heart of the issue is money. The council has set aside $3.2 million in this year's capital budget for Inner West Street -- a far cry from the $17.6 million that an urban design company says is needed. Council members believe a $12 million project is more realistic. Their plan would include the renovation of West Street and $4.9 million to build a traffic circle at Taylor Avenue.
Unsure where the money will come from, city officials discussed various options last night. Finance Director M. Kathleen Sulick said: "We do not have one penny of this money" in the budget for major capital improvements for 1997.
"You already have a full plate of projects," Sulick said. "We really have to make some tough decisions to get this done."
Sulick said city officials must decide which projects will be delayed to complete the plans for West Street. At stake are projects to repair the Hillman Garage, renovate Edgewood Road and make improvements to Stanton Center and the wastewater treatment plant.
Sulick also offered suggestions to obtain funding by going to the bond market, asking for state and county help and making water and sewer services "self-supporting."
The latter idea did not sit well with Tony Evans, an Annapolis resident who said he was watching the public hearing on television when he "shot up" from his couch to attend in person.
"It sounds like my water bill is going to go up," said Evans. "There is no money tree out there so we're probably going to have to pay for this ourselves.
"Please do not leave this city with a legacy of debt," Evans said.
But others urged the city on, saying they had faith that officials will find the funding.
"We think the time has come to stop talking about this and go ahead and adopt the [Inner West Street] plan and adopt this plan in its entirety," said James Nolan, a city resident and attorney who is chairman of the business development committee for the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce.
"We believe there are funds available. We do not want West Street to be treated as the poor stepchild of Main Street."
Pub Date: 11/19/96