Despite a drive by a city councilman to keep Fells Point's signature Recreation Pier in public hands, the executive overseeing disposition of the waterfront building said the city remains committed to choosing a private developer.
Paul T. Graziano, city commissioner for housing and community development, said yesterday that he is committed to "seeing the [selection] process play out," to find a financially viable development idea, because the city has decided it cannot maintain the 1914 building.
The process calls for him to choose a developer after a review panel makes a recommendation.
He added that he would like to see some public use for the site, taking into account "the community's aspirations for this historic piece of the waterfront."
However, the city decided yesterday to postpone a Monday review panel meeting that was scheduled to start considering five redevelopment proposals.
Graziano said the delay is due in part to difficulties scheduling a meeting with all the developers. But the decision also was made after Graziano received a letter completed at a Thursday night community meeting that did not back any of the five private proposals received by the city for the pier.
Three teams proposed residential use. A hotel and an amusement park plans also were presented.
First District City Councilman John L. Cain, who represents Fells Point, asked Mayor Martin O'Malley this week to consider keeping the pier public and selling up to $15 million in bonds to finance necessary repairs. Yesterday, the mayor's office declined to comment on the idea, saying it was leaving the process in Graziano's hands.
The letter sent by Lori Guess, chairwoman of the Fells Point Task Force's Recreation Pier Committee, stated the community's official position on the municipal building that many consider the best public space in the waterfront neighborhood, setting out certain conditions to be met for the community to be willing to work with a developer:
The building's ballroom would be restored and dedicated to community and cultural uses, but rented out for private uses.
The deck behind the ballroom would be used for public space.
The Pride of Baltimore II would be docked at the Recreation Pier.
The current tugboat operation would remain in place.
"We would like to accommodate the city's wish for a developer if they can meet the needs," Guess said.
Otherwise, she said, the group supported Cain's idea to issue bonds and keep the pier publicly owned.