Committee sticks its neck out on safety


March 20, 2000|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ANNAPOLIS THRIVES on little engines of committees: committees studying parking, traffic, parking, the developments at Park Place and the hospital, and parking. Being a member of a committee is generally a pretty safe enterprise.

There is one committee, however, whose members risk being killed in their beds. They make up the Eastport Fire Access Committee, and they are about to propose something bold: that state law be enforced and that cars not be allowed to park on red lines.

Some background is in order: As a consequence of the conflagration on Main Street in December 1997, the Annapolis fire department conducted a survey of fire safety in the city. One of its many conclusions was that parking should be eliminated in certain narrow streets in Eastport, to make passage easier for firetrucks.

The Eastport Civic Association commissioned the Eastport Fire Access Committee to look into the matter. I am a member of the committee, along with Chief Edward Sherlock and Capt. James Thomas of the fire department, Ward 8 Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, residents Ron Booth, Fred Smyth and Bob Wohlfarth, and its able chairman, Paul Meyer, who represented the Eastport Business Association.

"You'd think that being surrounded by water would be a good thing when it comes to fires," said Meyer. "Turns out that with so many people wanting to look at the water from their homes, there's no room for firetrucks to get around all the cars and access the fire hydrants and houses."

Committee members rode in a firetruck and discovered that several streets were barely navigable and some intersections almost impassable. So they recommended that no-parking lanes be brought up to code at problem intersections.

Dozens, perhaps scores, of cars could be displaced. This is where the possibility of homicide might be realized, given the passion people have for their cars these days.

"We'll be tarred and feathered," said one member -- "at best."

Sorting out intersections -- and eliminating further parking spaces in the process -- is likely to take place elsewhere in the city, especially in the cramped streets of the historic district.

State law prohibits parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection. One city official acknowledges that this law is indifferently applied and only casually enforced.

Members of the committee worked on the problem for six months and not a voice was raised. One hopes that once their recommendations see the light of day there will not be too much in the way of violence.

Arts scene

Like the proliferation of daffodils, there is increased activity in area museums and galleries.

A quick overview:

Ebby and Rick Malmgren will give a lecture at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College. The program,"Two Potters View Picasso Ceramics," is free. It is part of an exhibit of 63 ceramic pieces created by Pablo Picasso that will be on display through April 21.

Jane McWilliams, former member of the research staff at the Maryland State Archives, will give a lecture on early settlers of Anne Arundel County at 7: 30 p.m. Friday at the Capt. Salem Avery House Museum in Shady Side. Admission is $5; information is available at 410-867-2866. The event is sponsored by the Shady Side Heritage Society.

Paintings by Lee Boynton will be part of the "From Sea to Shining Sea" exhibition Sunday to April 9, McBride Gallery, 215 Main St.

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