Recreation Pier's future uncertain

Councilman backs bid for city to keep building

May 09, 2003|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Responding to community concerns about proposals to privately redevelop the vintage Recreation Pier in Fells Point, 1st District Councilman John L. Cain has asked the mayor to introduce a bond bill that would keep the municipal building publicly owned.

"It seems to me that the community is not happy with any of the proposals," Cain said last night at a community meeting on the topic held at Henderson's Wharf.

Eager to find a private owner with new uses for the pier, city officials issued a "request for qualifications" in the fall asking for proposals. Five were submitted by the Feb. 28 deadline.

Three of the proposals call for apartments or condominiums to be built; another proposes construction of an outdoor amusement park; and a fifth proposes a hotel.

But Cain said he suggested to Mayor Martin O'Malley that the building be kept public and $10 million to $15 million in bonds be sold to perform repairs to the pier. The city could then lease space inside the building to nonprofit groups such as the Pride of Baltimore Foundation and the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fells Point.

Cain said the mayor listened to the idea, but didn't make any commitment.

Opposition to residential development of the 1914 brick waterfront building -- whether it be condominiums, apartments or upscale housing -- was clear at a Fells Point Task Force meeting last night.

Lori Guess, chairwoman of the task force's committee on the recreation pier, said the community has reached a consensus in favor of continued public ownership of the pier.

"I'm thrilled," she said.

She circulated a letter she will send to Paul T. Graziano, commissioner of housing and community development, expressing support for a bond issue to cover the cost of restoration.

Graziano is expected to make a decision on the pier's future by the end of the month.

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