2018 Year in Review
Mayor Gavin Buckley
December 4, 2018
One year ago today, on December 4, 2017, I took the oath of office to become the 137thMayor of Annapolis. It is the greatest honor of my life and I am humbled by your faith in me. I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of the Annapolis City Council, for their support and contributions to many of the successes of the city departments and new administration over the past 12 months. Under the leadership of City Manager Teresa Sutherland and an outstanding team of experienced department directors, we have accomplished a great deal. (Watch enclosed video.)
My first priority as mayor was to assemble a team to create a One Annapolis – where all residents of our city are welcomed, included, and valued. We created the first full-time Hispanic community specialist and hired a full-time African American community specialist. We made a commitment to seek greater diversity on our boards and commissions. The future of Annapolis will be stronger as we work to create boards and commissions that truly reflect our diversity.
Through our One Annapolis efforts, and with Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, we were able to enroll children in our pop up camps for summer learning and help residents learn more about financial literacy, home buying, and starting a business. With the assistance of Alderman Marc Rodriguez, we created a program with Anne Arundel Community College to offer free English classes at Pip Moyer. We started monthly Hispanic Business Roundtables in conjunction with Anne Arundel County.
In June, the Mayor’s Office was honored to proclaim June as “Pride Month” and accept an offer from a young student to have an informal march up Main Street in support of the LBGTQ community. Our team is thrilled to be hosting the city’s first ever Pride parade on June 29, 2019. The Annapolis Police Department designated its first LGBTQ liaison as well.
For nearly three decades, the City has celebrated its connection and history with the African American community during its annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival. This year’s event was one of the biggest celebrations in years, and we look forward to hosting and supporting its 30thAnniversary next fall.
Working with the Mexican Consulate, we now have a mobile consulate coming to Annapolis to work directly with our Latino community on issues, with possible expansion to other Latino countries’ consulates. In November, we celebrated Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – one of the most important holidays of the year in Mexico – with a block party in the Annapolis Design District. Families of all cultural backgrounds from across the city and from surrounding areas enjoyed a Latino event like our city has never seen despite a downpour during the festivities.
Boosting Our Economy
In an effort to jumpstart economic reinvestment in our city and as one of the first actions by the new council and championed by Ward 1 Alderwoman Elly Tierney, the City Council awarded a contract to move forward with the renovations of the city-owned market house. The new Annapolis Market House opened mid-year and has been a hit with local families and visitors! We finally have a thriving and revenue producing market house.
During the mayoral campaign last year, I pledged to re-imagine our city’s greatest real estate asset – City Dock. The city has been incredibly fortunate to have significant and numerous conversations, both internally and in public settings, with renown experts in urban planning and historic preservation. Building upon the extraordinary efforts of the City Dock Master Plan, these experts all tend to agree with the majority of Annapolis stakeholders – our best real estate in the City should not be a parking lot.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors selected Annapolis for one of only seven cities in this year’s Mayors Institute for City Design, which brought together nationally acclaimed experts in urban planning to review and advise us on our plans. From our public event featuring placemaking pioneer Fred Kent to the recent Urban Land Institute’s technical advisory panel’s report funded by Historic Annapolis, and in concert with the recently completed Cultural Landscape Report, we have an excellent blueprint to move forward with creating a city dock that attracts all communities and helps boost our economy.
The city welcomed 28 new businesses to the city along with their 243 employees. In addition, 39 existing business expanded or relocated within the city. Our Economic Development team provided more than 35 businesses and nonprofits per month with start-up, retention and growth support services – connecting them with potential loans and investors.
Protecting Our Natural Resources
Soon our city will be Styrofoam free thanks to efforts to pass an expanded polystyrene foam ban that will reduce litter and keep foam out of our waterways and out of our fish and aquatic life. We celebrated the completion of one of the largest stream restoration projects in the city’s history undertaken by the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The project adds beauty to the property while reviving a dead stream, rejuvenating wetlands, and reducing pollution to Back Creek.
The Council, with the leadership of Alderman Rob Savidge, also passed legislation to ensure no net loss of trees from development and to support the establishment of “no discharge zone” in our waterways. We are deliberating on enhanced stormwater mitigation requirements and moving forward with a flood mitigation project on Compromise Street. We opened a solar park at Waterworks Park and are exploring other environmental programs there as well.
For the 26thyear in a row, Annapolis received a Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The city received funding provided through the Chesapeake Bay Trust for a stormwater reduction and green improvement plan for Main Street. We also initiated a plan to achieve flood mitigation rating sufficient to provide flood insurance discounts to residents.
Enhancing Public Safety
Our public safety team of the Annapolis Fire Department, Annapolis Police Department and Office of Emergency Management is outstanding. To watch these men and women respond to the Capital Gazette offices shooting was remarkable. Their excellence demonstrates the value of extensive cross departmental training and team building. Every day these men and women run bravely into danger while we run from it.
Annapolis Fire Department and Emergency Management staff kept busy with not only routine emergency calls, but incidents like helping Lighthouse Shelter clients find temporary lodging at Pip Moyer Rec Center during a hazmat situation at its facility. They helped provide 150 meals to residents of Newtowne 20 during a prolonged power outage in the height of summer’s heat. On the coldest nights of the year, the department activated the Stanton Center shelter 56 times with 855 referrals. The department received a national award for the Substance Use Disorder Bed Finder Project. They also continued their work to end opioid addiction and improve their “safe stations” efforts. The department purchased a new engine, a new rescue boat and funded firefighter positions previously funded by a federal grant. In total, the department secured more than $1 million in local, state and federal grants to improve service and ultimately, save lives.
In addition to round-the-clock service from our police department, the men and women of the APD have been expanding their outreach through programs like the Chief’s Advisory Team, two Citizen Police Academy classes, “Know Your Limits” about drunk driving awareness, and active assailant response training. APD officers held community movie nights, helped open a Hispanic youth outreach center, expanded school programs including Character Counts from three elementary schools to five, and DARE programs. The summer camps operated by the police are more popular than ever! Building on the success of Eastport Working Together, the department helped create similar programs in Newtowne and Bay Ridge Gardens. The department received numerous grants totaling thousands of dollars to increase efforts in the community and improve training. The APD is also more diverse than ever with 45 percent minority officers
Maintaining Our City’s Infrastructure
Despite one of the wettest years on record, Department of Public Works crews have been busy paving and repairing streets throughout the city, including all or sections of Spa Road, Fairhope Court, Halsey Road, Worden Court, Lafayette, Rickover Court, Boucher Avenue, Tyler Avenue, Georgetown Road, and Fisk Circle. Crews also replaced more than 1,000 square feet of sidewalks and re-lined over 8,000 feet of sanitary sewer pipes. More than 2,000 potholes were filled and our water system produced 1.2 billion gallons of high quality drinking water. Our waste management service provider collected 7,367 tons of refuse, 3,506 tons of recycling and 1,606 tons of yard waste. We swept more than 7,000 miles of streets to help keep our city clean and pollution from entering our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. After years of planning and construction, the Annapolis Solar Park is up and running, generating clean energy for the City, the County and our schools.
The department completed the replacements of the boardwalk at City Dock and Susan Campbell Park and completed the design and bidding of construction projects at Eastport and Taylor Avenue fire stations. The team also replaced 11 DPW vehicles in their aging fleet and reduced the fleet by eight vehicles as well.
One of our largest infrastructure projects, the Flood Mitigation Project, is underway with continued design of the Compromise Street phase. We secured $2 million from the State to move the project along. After numerous public meetings, we have finalized a site location for the pump station and will soon finalize the site plan for Newman Park.
More than 40 flooding occurrences this year on City Dock and Compromise Street caused the Harbormaster, DPW and APD crews to streets and redirect traffic. Advanced communication on a near weekly basis with schools in downtown Annapolis helped reduced congestion and frustration associated with the emergency road closures.
Growing Our City
Department of Planning and Zoning’s team has processed 743 permits so far this past year with a value of $109 million in construction costs. The team also helped open four new commercial buildings and 49 new residential buildings, including the opening of the new Annapolis Yacht Club and 110 Compromise in Downtown Annapolis. The City completed its Cultural Landscape Report and the first of its kind in the nation, Culture Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan. These documents will guide future growth in Downtown Annapolis – protecting our history and culture while planning for increasing sea rise and climate change.
Increasing Our Mobility and Connecting Communities
Our transportation department received capital funding assistance from the state to purchase three new buses and replacement of the transportation facility’s oil filtration system. We also transition two routes to Anne Arundel County without disruptions in service. We expanded the route and number of stops of the free Circulator service to help connect parking garages with business districts like Maryland Avenue.
We cannot reflect of this past year without mentioning bikes. This year, we designated more bike lanes in downtown Annapolis. The Downtown Annapolis Partnership received a grant to help the city improve its biking infrastructure. We launched the city’s first bike share program with more than 750 new members. The Annapolis Police Department re-established its bike unit. We are exploring options to connect the popular B & A Bike Trail with the Poplar Trail and working with our partners in the bicycling community to expand our trail system to truly connect all communities. And, of course, we launched a bike path on Main Street. The bike path on Main Street wasn’t just about bikes, it was about making Main Street more experiential. This project united the downtown businesses in unprecedented fashion and we will continue to meet and work together to find ways to invigorate the economic heart of the city.
Keeping Our City Healthy and Active
Department of Recreation and Parks served over 540 children in its summer Splash Camp and expanded sports programs to help serve more kids. Pickeball has taken off and is helping boost memberships to Pip Moyer Rec Center. Next year will be incredibly busy with new courts for tennis and pickleball, as well as the start of construction for a new Truxtun Park pool.
Hundreds of young people participated in the Truxtun Youth Triathlon and Mighty Milers program. More than 18,000 participants benefitted from the fitness classes at the rec center. Community meetings for a new outdoor fitness court on Poplar Trail were held.
The Harbormaster’s Office handled countless complaints in upper Spa Creek for violations committed by anchored boaters. The opening of the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River at the top of the Chesapeake Bay also caused an astounding amount of debris to collect in our harbor. Harbormaster and DPW crews worked long hours, along with volunteers from Watermark, to help clean our waters and keep them navigable.
Celebrating and Attracting Hundreds of Thousands of Visitors
During a gorgeous snowfall last December, thousands braved winter conditions to enjoy the Eastport Yacht Club’s Lights Parade. We huddled during single digit temperatures for the 2017 Military Bowl Parade and again to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In February, our town was in the national spotlight for the NHL Game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium where we “rocked the red” to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. We marched for women in January and we marched again in March – this time for our lives and because our young students were fed up with unchecked gun violence and organized one of the largest rallies this City has ever seen. We honored those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day. The Blue Angels soared during USNA’s Commissioning Week under beautiful crystal blue skies.
In a shock to the members of the Maritime Republic of Eastport, the City of Annapolis, under the leadership of local legend John O’Leary won the Eastport Tug of War!
We cried when the survivors of The Capital Gazette bravely marched in our annual Independence Day Parade and we showed the world how much this hometown paper, one of the oldest in the country, means to our families and businesses. We danced in the streets to remember those lives lost and support Freedom of the Press during Annapolis Rising: A Benefit Concert, raising $64,000 for the Capital Gazette Families Fund.
We held candelight vigils for victims of gun violence and stood in solidarity with other cities reeling from mass shootings.
The City held the first Annual Sailor’s Triathlon that traversed our City and for the first time since 9/11, a foot race ran through the yard of the Naval Academy.
In 2018, the city permitted 131 special events. With expert coordination between the Mayor’s Office and the Office of Emergency Management, help of hundreds of volunteers, and assistance from multiple levels of government, all of these events happened without any major incidents. Special events attract thousands of visitors to our town who spend millions of dollars on hotels, shopping and dining. Even when an event’s popularity seems to take over our small town of historic narrow streets, our public safety and emergency management teams make things move like clockwork.
Celebrating the Arts
Our arts community is thriving! The Annapolis Arts District renewed its state designation for another 10 years due to its economic achievements. We appointed several new members to the Art in Public Places Commission. The highlight of the year was receiving a $200,000 state grant to revitalize the underperforming Harbor Mall building on Dock Street into an arts collective that showcases local artists and will feature a mural depicting Annapolis scenes that greets the thousands of visitors who pass through the Naval Academy’s visitor gate.
We appointed a Poet Laureate. Music lovers enjoyed outdoor concerts all over town. Spectacular murals continue to amaze residents and visitors alike. The Pip Moyer Rec Center opened its first show in the new gallery. City Hall hosted several outstanding art shows this year. These efforts will continue and grow to help showcase the never-ending talents of our local artists and musicians.
Behind the Scenes
Our “inside City Hall” team of Information Technology, Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing, Information Technology, Office of Law, City Clerk’s office, and the Mayor’s Office does an exceptional job of keeping the trains running.
Human Resources staff helped hire 18 firefighters and paramedics; eight police officers, three cadets, and two police communications operators, and a deputy fire chief; nine new staff members of the Mayor’s Office; a new city manager, finance director, city attorney, Office of Environmental Policy Director, chief of Historic Preservation; recruitment/employee relations administrator; and 45 Recreation and Parks, 16 Harbormaster, three public works and four police temporary employees for season duties.
Our efforts to increase access to and transparency in city government, we have upgraded our City of Annapolis Television technology to allow livestreaming, Face Book Live, closed captioning, and more efficient archiving. Our social media followers have increased nearly 70 percent.
Accomplishing Goals with City Council
Four of the members of the Annapolis City Council took the oath of office for the first time the same day as Mayor Gavin Buckley. They joined four re-elected alderpersons and got to work immediately to move the city forward.
Under the leadership of Alderwoman Shaneka Henson, we implemented a new policy that allows our school children to ride Annapolis Transit busses for free, expanded hours at Pip Moyer Rec Center to accommodate additional youth programming, and waived city permitting fees associated with improvements to Tyler Heights Elementary School.
Alderman Rob Savidge led our efforts to pass a No Net Loss trees preservation ordinance and support an application to declare the waters of Annapolis a No Discharge Zone. He continues to combine his passion for environmental protection with policy to protect our natural resources.
Alderwomen Elly Tierney and Rhonda Pindell Charles spearheaded efforts to pass an apology for the horrific lynching of African American men that occurred in the City’s history.
Alderman Fred Paone visited new businesses with me in West Annapolis. Alderman Ross Arnett hosted a National Night Event in Eastport and helped pass legislation that gives our communities a greater voice in the development process.
With the assistance of Alderwomen Pindell Charles and Sheila Finlayson, we launched our first community engagement session for the Naptown Anti-Dope Move(meant) – a program to bring addiction and health service providers directly into communities.
The City Council worked together to pass a budget and approve four union contracts, include police and fire, led by City Manager Sutherland. She also worked with council committees to identify the needs for the tax increase, improve financial management, and put the city on much more stable financial footing.
Healing Our City & Honoring Lives Lost
Midway through the year, our community was shaken by the terrible tragic shooting at The Capital Gazette offices. We will never forget the work and lives of Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith. We will honor their lives with permanent memorials in our city. Our community rallied to support our community newspaper, which has called Annapolis its home for hundreds of years. Annapolis Rising: A Benefit for The Capital Gazette and First Responders and protection of the freedom of the press helped raise $64,000 for the fund. Thank you to all of the event sponsors and local companies that helped fund the event.
In November, a young man, Kory Johnson, was murdered in Bay Ridge Gardens. Our police department is actively investigating Kory’s death to bring his family justice and help the Bay Ridge community heal and strengthen.
The outstanding work of Eastport Working Together has helped unite neighbors and find solutions to our city’s most urgent needs. This model has been replicated in Bay Ridge Gardens and Newtowne 20 and there is great optimism for the future when we empower of all of our people.
Planning for the Future
The past year went by quickly with several successes and lessons learned. I will continue to carry out my vision of Annapolis as a town were hate has no home; where together, as “One Annapolis,” we continue to develop into a thriving and dynamic city; and where we look for new ideas to improve our way of life and city design. Join me on this journey and reach out to City Hall with your ideas and suggestions, and to get involved in your local community.