Former Baltimore Mayor Schmoke to chair committee on Annapolis City Dock

Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will chair a new advisory committee tasked with redeveloping Annapolis City Dock, city officials announced Wednesday.

The City Dock Advisory Committee will put together a proposal for the city on redeveloping its signature public space — a major attraction for tourists and home to boating and sailing activities that attract visitors annually — with the goal of submitting a plan to the city council by fall 2011.

The 25-member committee, which will examine issues related to economic development, transportation and the overall geographic layout, consists of people from a wide range of civic life, including residents, business owners and those involved in the maritime industry.

Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, a Democrat, said he asked Schmoke to chair the committee because Schmoke has the "leadership skills to facilitate consensus" as the former leader of a city with a waterfront that underwent its own considerable redevelopment. Cohen also said Schmoke is someone "who doesn't have his own political agenda" and has experience with "high-profile issues, dealing with the nuts and bolts of making a town work." Cohen stressed that there will be opportunity for public input throughout the process.

Schmoke, a Democrat and former three-term mayor of Baltimore who is now the dean of the Howard University School of Law, called the City Dock area "quite a gem," and said his main goal would be "defining the problems, then defining the solutions." Schmoke, who has lived just outside the Annapolis city limits for the past two years, said he goes into the process without "preconceived notions" of what the area should be.

"It's such a vital area … an area that's vitally important to the community, and we should begin thinking broadly," said Schmoke. "We ought to take our time. We're asking everybody to set aside their pre-conceived notions and then start talking."

The committee's plan is expected to address issues like zoning, parking and the retail mix in the approximately five-acre area of the historic downtown.

"Downtown is the signature space in Annapolis, and City Dock is the heart of downtown," said Cohen. "No other part of Annapolis is more key or critical."

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