We live and work here because Annapolis is a great city. That doesn’t mean we’re without challenges, though:
Throughout the country, retail districts and malls are under assault from the online world. Chains are closing bricks and mortar stores everywhere; banks are shuttering retail branches nationwide. During the last four years the City’s Economic Development team led a focus on adding boutique clothing and upscale products to the mix on Main Street. There is much work remaining, and we must support the recruitment of more new, unique businesses while simultaneously expanding promotion and streamlining the entire process for opening businesses in the City.
Parking continues to be a major concern. Status quo is not an option. The Parking Contractor is giving us some recommendations on improvements to our parking system. There is a lot of effort ahead to evaluate these recommendations and develop solutions that will work here in Annapolis. Some of the suggestions are risky – we’ll need to experiment and embrace the successes while cutting out the duds. It can be done – we can work together to move our parking system to the next level.
Since 2013, I’ve actively participated in the City’s core team developing strategies and solutions to address sea level rise. The first products of the plan are the efforts under way to protect against nuisance flooding at City Dock. The complete plan will develop approaches to attack further flooding from sea level rise throughout the rest of Ward One and the City.
The next four years will bring forth challenges in Zoning. Residents and businesses alike care passionately about developments that may impact them. Yet our Development Review process excludes the public from conversation until the very end – we need to adopt policies similar to other jurisdictions that allow developers and interested parties to work together as a community early in the process. A number of questions still remain for City Dock. And we’ll be crafting the City’s next Comprehensive Plan. My experience with the 2009 Comprehensive Plan, the West Street Transportation Study, the City Dock Master Plan, and on the Council give me the background to face these challenges.
The City’s unfunded pension and benefit liabilities remain a major concern. In 2013 the Council approved collective bargaining agreements that increased both city and employee contributions, cutting the unfunded pension liability almost in half. We are still underfunded, though. With this administration unfunded pension liabilities have increased 160%. The administration just concluded collective bargaining that did nothing to address the shortfall. Our city needs leadership that is not afraid to tackle hard problems.