City to pay $400,000 for Canton promenade

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration agreed to pay $400,000 Wednesday toward building a brick walkway in Canton, a project intended to close a gap in the promenade along Baltimore's harbor.

The walkway in front of The Moorings, a neighborhood of million-dollar townhouses off Boston Street, has been a source of contention between the city and the site's developer. The developer built a floating walkway instead of the brick sidewalk the city is constructing along the rest of the waterfront.

The city sued the developer, The Moorings at Canton LLC, over the walkway in 2010, and the developer and a homeowners group filed "very aggressive counterclaims," accusing the city of infringing on private property, City Solicitor George Nilson said.

To settle the lawsuit, the city has agreed to pay $400,000 toward the walkway, with the developer paying the rest of the approximately $1.15 million cost, Nilson said. The city Board of Estimates approved the settlement Wednesday.

The new walkway will be built on a pier, replacing the floating promenade, which was lower than the surrounding sidewalk. It will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, unlike its predecessor, Nilson said.

Representatives of The Moorings did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Mayoral spokesman Ryan O'Doherty called the promenade, now 7.4 miles long, "one of our city's great community assets that encourages growth and is completely open for public use. It's a unique public space that makes people want to live in Baltimore, and it's something that all city residents can enjoy and be proud of."

But City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young voted against the expenditure to replace the short stretch by The Moorings. A spokesman said Young thought the city should focus its resources on programs that benefit youth, such as recreation centers. Comptroller Joan M. Pratt abstained from voting.

The other three members of the board, Rawlings-Blake, Nilson and Public Works Director Col. Alfred Foxx voted in favor of the expenditure.

Nilson said the settlement will help ensure that other developers construct appropriate walkways along the harbor. Accepting the floating promenade would have set a bad precedent, he said.

Developers have worked on two portions of the promenade in Harbor East in recent years — repairing about 350 feet in front of Jackson's Wharf and beginning construction of a 450-foot segment near the Four Seasons Hotel, O'Doherty said.

City officials hope to add another mile to the promenade, filling in gaps near Key Highway South, Canton Crossing and Harbor Point, site of the proposed Exelon tower, O'Doherty said.

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