Main Street bike lane draws heated testimony at Annapolis city council meeting

Construction begins on the temporary bike lane that will travel up Main Street in Annapolis.
Construction begins on the temporary bike lane that will travel up Main Street in Annapolis. (Joshua McKerrow, staff / Capital Gazette)

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley heard heated testimony from residents and business owners at Monday night’s city council meeting about the new temporary bike lane on Main Street that removed parking along one side of the road.

Amid testimony from more than a dozen people opposing the bike lane, Buckley said the equipment for the temporary lane cost $30,000 — and the experiment would last 45 days instead of 30.


Public works director David Jarrell said the project would cost about $100,000 — including labor, contract work and equipment. The final tally is unknown until the city completes a purchase of sidewalk tables and chairs, city spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said.

Ron George, owner of Ron George Jewelers at 205 Main St., said he and fellow business owners with whom he spoke were upset by the bike lane, for which he argued Buckley had not sought out adequate community input.


“Please have an emergency vote and stop this now,” George said. “It’s hurting people now.”

Annapolis will install a temporary bike lane on Main Street, removing parking from one side of the downtown thoroughfare for 30 days. The $50,000 project will launch Sept. 16 with the goal of moving toward a more permanent bike lane as a part of the Main Street rebricking.

Sveinn Storm, who owns Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory, said the businesses on the street are suffering. They contribute to the city, but are often ignored when it comes to city policy, he said.

“People should be included,” Storm said. “We’ve stated our priorities in the past. They don’t listen to them. Then something like this comes along.”

A few bicycling advocates in favor of the lane were among the crowd in the council chamber, too.


Joe Gormley, partner at Gormley Jarashow Bowman LLC, argued that the process hadn’t been as arbitrary as some opponents were claiming.

“If you didn’t know this was coming, you weren’t paying attention,” he said.

Bret Mingo, 49, who lives in Downtown Annapolis, argued that bike lanes will encourage more people to get out of their cars — thereby freeing up more parking space.

“They’re looking at this as a zero-sum game,” he said. “It’s not.”

As the meeting ticked past 11 p.m., the council voted to postpone a decision on spending nearly $34,000 in taxpayer money to help pay for the Annapolis Rising Festival.

The benefit concert, honoring the victims and first responders of the June 28 mass shooting at The Capital Gazette office, cost a total of $66,000 and was hastily organized to take place on the shooting’s one-month anniversary.

Five staffers of The Capital were killed and others were injured in the attack. Pop-punk band Good Charlotte headlined the festival, which also included speeches from journalists and family members of those killed — Wendi Winters, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Gerald Fischman and Rebecca Smith.

The festival netted nearly $64,000 in ticket sales, all of which was donated directly to the Anne Arundel Community Foundation’s Capital Gazette Families Fund by the Rams Head Group, said O’Brien, the city spokeswoman.

The Rams Head waived its typical fees, and the donation was matched by the Michael and Jacky Ferro Family Foundation, which matched donations up to $1 million, she said.

“Every single dollar for the ticket sales has already gone to the fund,” O’Brien said.

Sponsorship revenue, food truck and beer sales totaled nearly $117,000, according to O’Brien. That amount includes $34,750 in sponsorship money that remains outstanding, she said.

Buckley and the aldermen officially recognized all the various companies and people who assisted with the event at the council meeting Monday night.

Sandra Elwood, an Annapolis resident, accused city officials of forgetting about the high school classmate of the man charged in the shooting, whose harassment complaint against him prompted an article in The Capital that sparked his years-long vendetta against the newspaper.

Ellwood said she had a message for the mayor and aldermen from the friend: “Where were you all when I was begging for help?”

Buckley asked her to share his contact information with her friend, who Ellwood said had moved to North Carolina to escape the harassment.

The $34,000 in city fees would pay for permits; police, fire and public works department overtime; and other expenses.

It included a $2,611 advertising buy from the Tribune Publishing Co., the parent company of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which owns The Capital Gazette.

If the city aldermen had voted against retroactively sponsoring the event and waive fees, O’Brien said, sponsorship money would have been used to cover costs, resulting in less than $17,000 in sponsorship income for the foundation — in addition to ticket revenue.

The Annapolis Arts District collected about $46,000 of the sponsorship money and beer and wine revenue.

Katcef Brothers, a beer distributor and lead sponsor, donated $25,000 to Annapolis Rising LLC, an account set up by a Max Huber, a staff member of Buckley’s, to be an “organizing entity” for the concert, O’Brien said.

That account collected a total of $36,000, including in credit card beer sales revenue. It paid for $7,000 of beer from Katcef Brothers, the event’s lead sponsor, and about $28,000 for stage and lighting from Chesapeake Audio Visual Services.

Annapolis Rising LLC is not a nonprofit organization, but Huber is in the process of applying for nonprofit status, O’Brien said.

O’Brien defended Buckley’s handling of the concert, which cost the city about $1,900 more than his initial estimate, presented to the council just days before the event.

While it required hasty planning, she said, holding the benefit on the one-month anniversary of the shooting was among the reasons it raised so much money.

“While no one will ever forget what happened at 888 [Bestgate Road, the office building that formerly housed the paper] ... the public moves on,” she said. “Gavin was committed to making sure we held an event before that moving on happens.”

This article has been corrected to reflect that the final cost of the temporary bicycle lane is not known, and to correct the proposed beneficiaries of the roughly $34,000 city fees Mayor Gavin Buckley is proposing to waive.