Reaffirming its commitment to the city's maritime heritage and Eastport's waterfront, the Annapolis City Council last night voted to lease the McNasby Oyster Co. building to a seafood-related business.
In the resolution adopted 8-1, the aldermen agreed to continue lease negotiations with the Portland Lobster Co., an Annapolis-based seafood business and to look for other tenants if those discussions fail.
"This is what we wanted," said Peg Wallace, a member of the Eastport Historical Committee and one of about 20 Eastport residents who attended the meeting to ask the council to save the building at 723 2nd St.
Ms. Wallace handed the council a petition with the signatures of 270 residents that urged the city to lease the property to a maritime tenant rather than sell it for development.
The city bought the property in 1989 for $1.1 million with a combination of state, county and private loans. Some of the state money was provided on the condition that the property be used as a park.
The city then leased the property to the Maryland Watermen's Cooperative, which was to have operated a seafood processing plant as well as a wholesale and retail business.
The project was beset by delays in getting the proper permits and by mismanagement. The watermen closed their operation in February.
In April, the city solicited bids from businesses interested in operating the plant and received three proposals. The plan submitted by Portland Lobster was the only one to include the three elements of wholesale and retail business and seafood processing.
Alderman Dean Johnson Johnson, a Ward 2 Independent, said the city had paid too much for the building initially. But selling the property, he said, would be the "municipal equivalent of bulimia."
Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat who represents the Eastport community, pointed out that preserving McNasby's would be in keeping with various city plans.
She suggested that the mayor appoint a committee to study the building and recommend possible maritime uses for it.