Seeking balance to keep beauty Panel hopes to save favorite features of residents, tourists

October 09, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Ensuring that the historically rich land that hugs the Chesapeake Bay from Sandy Point southward will continue to delight residents and the visitors who are arriving in increasing numbers has become the task of a committee pursuing new state money.

It will have to be a delicate balance, organizers say.

At stake are the pastoral views and narrow, winding roads of the countryside and the historic city blocks of Annapolis that bustle as a seat of government. Rampant tourism could kill the very thing attracting people to the area. But because they can't keep people out, organizers say, managing their presence is key.

"We've found that keeping a place livable, where people actually want to live in the historic town -- that keeps the visitors coming," said Ann Fligsten, president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation and chairwoman of the steering committee for the Annapolis and London Town Heritage Area.

The Annapolis and London Town Heritage Area is one of several regions the state has recognized under the Maryland Heritage Preservation and Tourism Areas program.

If the state approves the plan consultants are preparing, the area will be eligible for state grants, tax breaks and other financial assistance good for everything from buying historic property to setting up a shuttle bus system.

"It doesn't mean we're opening this whole area to tourism," Fligsten cautioned.

But several Annapolis and South County residents who attended the first of three forums this week on the heritage area worried about an influx of visitors.

John Wing had his mind on the winding roads that crisscross South County.

"If those wind up being touted, they could be destroyed," said Wing, who owns a house near Burley Creek in Annapolis. "Perhaps we should keep those roads and not tell the tourists about them."

Keeping certain areas off limits is an option the planners are considering. But certain places, like the Naval Academy and the buried merchant village at London Town, are already anchor sites.

And somewhere between untouchable treasure and tourist attraction lie places such as Galesville, a picturesque waterman's village on the West River, and the Captain Salem Avery House, home of a 19th-century waterman that is open for tours one day a week in Shady Side.

The steering committee has hired a Philadelphia consultant to draw up a plan considering preservation, tourism development, transportation and other measures.

"If the quality of life for the resident is destroyed, it's destroyed for the visitor too," said David C. Hamme, a partner with Wallace, Roberts & Todd, a planning, design and architecture group.

The plan, still in draft form, has to be certified by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority for the region to tap into state funding.

Another public forum will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Galesville Hall in Galesville. Information: 410-267-7619.

Pub Date: 10/09/98

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