That’s the projected price tag for an ambitious and attractive plan to save City Dock — the loose term describing the public areas along Dock Street, Compromise Street and Susan B. Cambell Park — from the ravages of sea-level rise on the Chesapeake Bay.
The plan released last month includes flood barriers, new green space, mixed-use areas for community events and a system of interconnected pathways to draw pedestrians and cyclists downtown. It is expected to unfold over the next five years with a projected completion date of March 2024.
It is an urgent project not only for needed changes it would bring to downtown Annapolis but for a financing mechanism that will focus resources on paying for solutions to the floodwaters rising all along the Chesapeake Bay.
I'm actually amazed, and a little impressed that they didn't make a climate change pitch out of this.
Proponents of the City Dock action plan want to create a financial authority, similar to the Maryland Stadium Authority, to pay for redevelopment with bonds or other longterm financial structures.
Without this authority, this plan is doomed to become the 10th failed effort to yank City Dock out of its 1980s complacency and shove it toward a mid-21st-century future — and worse.
The planned measures to address flooding are complicated and expensive. Organizations behind this project — the City of Annapolis, Historic Annapolis, the National Park Service, the Urban Land Institute, the Chesapeake Conservancy and others — are about to begin a campaign to get the public on board.
It would seem to me that there are a lot of businesses nearby who rely on tourist dollars tied to City Dock should be more than happy to contribute a bit to the project, to help maitain their own long-term viability. Of course, they'll only do that if they can't pawn it off on local, state and federal governments. They ain't stupid.
How much of that effort is at building support for the financing authority is unclear. Organizers describe it as a local authority, but the model could work for similar projects that will be needed from Crisfield to Havre de Grace and beyond.
Mayor Gavin Buckley and others are seeking a meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan to win his support, a good move. We hope Hogan sees the potential to make this project a model for the rest of Maryland and create a legacy as a governor who took concrete action to deal with the climate emergency now upon us.
Actually, it might be a little unfair of me to blame Annapolis for poor planning on this. How were they to know, in 1649, when the city was first established, that sea level was rising. In fact, as far back as we have tidal records, the sea level at Annapolis has been rising at about 3.6 mm per year, with no sign of an acceleration in that rate:
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