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Bay Ridge Gardens residents call on Annapolis City Council to address mold, security issues

About a dozen Bay Ridge Gardens residents stood to be recognized at Monday's City Council meeting where they called attention to a raft of issues at their housing community, including mold, gas leaks, mismanagement and safety issues.
About a dozen Bay Ridge Gardens residents stood to be recognized at Monday's City Council meeting where they called attention to a raft of issues at their housing community, including mold, gas leaks, mismanagement and safety issues.(Brooks DuBose / Capital Gazette)

About a dozen residents from Bay Ridge Gardens had a message for the Annapolis City Council: They have had enough.

The group of residents attended Monday’s Annapolis City Council meeting to call attention to a raft of issues they said they’ve dealt with for the last several years at the affordable housing community on Bens Drive.

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An’gel Gough, president of the resident council, spoke on behalf of the residents. She highlighted poor living conditions like mold, gas and water leaks and pest infestations, that plague many of the units, as well as what she described as mismanagement by Jonathan Rose Companies, which has overseen the property since October. Bay Ridge Gardens is a federally subsidized housing community, but it is not overseen by the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis.

“We need the city to step up and do what elected officials are supposed to do: represent their city,” Gough said. “We as residents are looking for justice. We are looking for things to be resolved today. We’ve been crying for the past 10 years about this property, and it’s getting worse."

No one from Jonathan Rose Companies spoke at the meeting.

Safety issues have also caused concern among community members.

In 2019, there was a string of shootings, including Gough’s son, who was shot in April. Another occurred in October, when a 30-year-old woman, Tiara Taylor, was shot and killed outside her mother’s home in the community. The homicide are still unsolved.

“We can talk until we’re blue in the face,” Gough said. “We need changes to occur from day one.”

Mayor Gavin Buckley and Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 8, have attended meetings and walkthroughs on the property, they said.

“We’ve been there a lot," Buckley said. “This sounds like something we need to get on it right away.”

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Gay, the chair of the Housing & Human Welfare Committee called the alleged behavior of the management company “ridiculous."

“I get there and the property office is closed at noon. I go back two hours later and it’s still closed. It’s unbelievable," he said. "There has to be some legal process in place to assist these residents.”

Toni Strong Pratt, an advocate with Anne Arundel Connecting Together, spoke about not just Bay Ridge Gardens but other public and subsidized housing in the city.

The residents’ complaints are similar to those from folks who live in public housing overseen by the Annapolis housing authority, Pratt said.

“When we have environmental issues on West Street and downtown, we jump directly on it,” Pratt said. “It’s not just HACA’s problem. It’s not just the subsidized housing problem. This is our problem.”

Alderman Rob Savidge, D-Ward 7, suggested the housing committee subpoena the property company.

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City Manager David Jarrell asked Gough to notify the city of the units dealing with the worst mold and other problems on the property so city inspectors could complete inspections.

Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles assured those gathered that the city would work to address the situation.

“By Friday, we’re going to have some substantial results,” she said.

The council approved new language in the city’s capital budget and capital projects program to clear the way for the construction of a new public works building estimated to cost about $10.5 million.

The passage of O-40-19 solidifies language to the fiscal year 2020 capital budget and Capital Improvement Program for fiscal years 2021 to 2025 to include the new proposed location for the long-awaited public works building at 39 Hudson Street.

Elsewhere on the agenda, the council will consider waiving docking fees for some upcoming events at City Dock, including nearly $9,000 for six visits by the Pride of Baltimore II in March and April.

The Pride of Baltimore II will drop anchor for Maryland Day March 20-25 and return for other events on March 25-27, March 29, March 30-31, March 31-April 1, April 5 and April 19.

The council could also waive docking fees for the arrival of the Maiden, a British sailing vessel, which is currently in the midst of a world tour with a rotating roster of all-female crew members to raise awareness and funds for girls education.

The Maiden will visit City Dock on April 8 through 12 and again on April 17. It was designed by Annapolis native Bruce Farr and built-in 1979 before being sold to a British skipper.

Two bills previously introduced will receive a public hearing Monday, including the proposed plastic bag ban, O-9-20. The other, O-6-20, would amend the city’s bulk standards to facilitate the redevelopment of public housing properties in the city.

Other business

  • In his opening statement, Buckley clarified details of the city’s response to complaints of mold in a Robinwood public housing unit detailed in The Capital Monday. After getting a call from the resident Feb. 6, an inspection was completed within 24 hours and the resident and her family were moved soon after the unit was taken offline. “I take this seriously,” Buckley said. “Please call us and we will respond.”
  • Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, was not in attendance as she was at home recovering from knee surgery. Alderman Marc Rodriguez, D-Ward 5, missed his third meeting of the year and sixth in the last seven, dating back to October.
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