Maryland lawmakers secure $3.46 million for Annapolis City Dock revitalization project

A trio of federal lawmakers celebrated secured $3.46 million for the City Dock revitalization project in Annapolis Monday.

U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin and Rep. John Sarbanes presented Mayor Gavin Buckley with a gigantic fake check at a news conference touting the federal appropriation, which was included in an omnibus bill that the Senate passed days before Christmas.


“We accused the mayor of planning this event for a high-tide day,” Cardin joked during remarks at the waterfront Market House. Outside, dozens of school children on field trips wandered around Susan Campbell Park, where Spa Creek was indeed flowing up onto the brick walkway. “This is a regular occurrence,” Cardin noted.

All three federal lawmakers pointed to climate change as a root cause of Annapolis’ water woes, and the reason for their heightened concern. The proposed $50 million project includes the bigger, better Noah Hillman Garage, which is scheduled to open later this year; a new waterfront landscape that will turn the existing City Dock parking lot into a park; and a series of stormwater mitigation improvements, such as water pumps, that will help turn the tide against regular flooding in Maryland’s capital.

Holding a ceremony check , from the U.S. Treasury for $3,460,100.00 for City Dock improvement project, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, U.S. Congressman 3rd District, John Sarbanes, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. 
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) hosted a press conference in Annapolis with Mayor Gavin Buckley and County Executive Steuart Pittman at City Dock on the new congressionally directed investment of $3.46 million that the lawmakers secured to revitalize and improve the resiliency of this economic and cultural hub.

“Our residents have all experienced City Dock,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “They all want to come down here with their kids and go on what will be a beautiful grassy space and a splash pad and there will be concerts and there will be events here. But most importantly, it protects us from sea-level rise.”

Although planning has been underway since early in Buckley’s first term, Monday marked the first time the mayor gave a date for waterfront construction to get underway: After the Annapolis Boat Shows, which means demolition could start as early as October.

Sarbanes used his time at the podium to praise not only Buckley’s vision but also the process, which has brought together local, state and federal lawmakers with community stakeholders.

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“This was a challenge,” the seven-term congressman said. “I’ve seen all the competing dynamics, interests, and constituencies. To bring them all together to get a single vision for how to proceed with this City Dock project is a real achievement.”

The $3.46 million appropriation marks the third influx of federal cash for City Dock. In 2021, the same trio of lawmakers announced $3 million toward flood mitigation, and in 2022, $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding paid out through the Department of Commerce. Garage construction has been funded through a public/private partnership, but more money is needed. Although the figure of $50 million has been floated for several years, Buckley quoted as much as $70 million at the news conference, and it’s not clear who will foot the remaining bill.

One source the city hopes to tap is oil and gas companies. In 2021, the city sued more than 20 oil and gas companies for their role in climate change, alleging that the firms knew fossil fuel consumption caused temperatures and oceans to rise, but instead pushed a messaging campaign that individuals are responsible for reducing their carbon footprints.

Van Hollen pointed out, however, that legislation may prove a more practical way to make oil and gas companies, some of which are enjoying record profits, pay for resiliency projects like City Dock. Two years ago, he led a group of senators that introduced the Polluters Pay Climate Fund Act, which would require companies to pay a percentage of profits to the fund based on their global emissions. The bill will be reintroduced soon, Van Hollen said.

“Those who have contributed to so much of the greenhouse emissions that are causing the flooding here in Annapolis and climate change around the country and around the world need to contribute more,” Van Hollen said.


Sarbanes was slightly more optimistic about the prospects of holding fossil fuel companies accountable through the courts. Baltimore and several other coastal cities have filed similar climate change lawsuits.

“I think anything that can bring accountability for the climate change that we’re dealing with as a nation is a step in the right direction,” Sarbanes said. “We are fighting for that accountability in Washington.”

Preliminary concept renderings for the Hillman Garage-City Dock redevelopment project. Annapolis Mobility and Resilience Partners, or AMRP, a consortium of 10 companies, will oversee the redevelopment, the city confirmed Tuesday.