The old Annapolis Department of Public Works building on Spa Road, built in the 1950s, is slated to be torn down and rebuilt.
The old Annapolis Department of Public Works building on Spa Road, built in the 1950s, is slated to be torn down and rebuilt. (By Paul W. Gillespie, Capital Gazette)

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley has asked a task force to delay its final report on a proposed land swap for the new city public works facility after an analysis found the cost to facilitate residential houses on one of the properties would exceed the $500,000 initially offered by the developer.

The Public Works Facility Task Force, chaired by former alderman Jared Littmann, was expected to release a report by the end of the year on a complicated land swap with developer LaTerra Homes.


The task force has stopped its work until the city provides more guidance, specifically to address the scope of the work moving forward, Littman said.

If the swap were to occur, the public works facility would be built on Forest Drive while homes would be built on Spa Road.

In a memo Tuesday to the City Council and Littmann, Buckley asked the task force to delay its report until January after a survey by the Maryland Department of the Environment found that turning Weems-Whelan athletic field into land acceptable for residential use would cost far more than the $500,000 offered by developer La Terra to complete the remediation work.

“If the preliminary assessment from MDE proves to be in their final report, then it makes building at the lower portion of the Spa Road site unfeasible,” he said. “And if building at the lower portion of that site is not economical, then the economics of the land swap might change so much that it makes the land swap impractical to give further consideration to.”

The delay would allow officials to explore other options, Buckley said. “I am always on the lookout. I am not one to consider better options in everything that I do.”

Early in his mayoral tenure, Buckley halted construction on a new public works facility and proposed it be built on property at Forest Drive, adjacent to American Legion Post 141. In exchange, La Terra Homes would build homes on the site of the public works facility — condemned since 2010 — and the athletic field.

According to the MDE survey, about 15 feet of soil would have to be removed to clear the land of contamination, according to the memo. If the field continues to be used for its current purpose, the city would likely only have to add a layer of soil and monitor for methane gas, at little cost.

“As we suspected, we learned that the amount of required remediation depends on the use of the field,” Buckley wrote.

Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson and others raised concerns about the deal and called for the formation of a task force to study the issue.

The task force had asked if other locations for the site were considered, Buckley said, including the old Capital site and another on Admiral Drive.

“We had looked at those options and none of them had panned out,” he said.