Residents lose bus service


While managers of the Woodside Gardens housing complex and Annapolis officials argued over using a parking lot for U-turns, residents of the complex had to do without city bus service for two days.

City officials brokered a compromise that will allow bus service to resume today, but many residents of the 144-family subsidized housing complex said they felt isolated and angry after the incident.

At a community meeting last night, people who rely on the bus for transportation to school and work blamed the building's management for allowing the squabble to sacrifice their services.

"They want to cage us in," said Latanya Holland, 19, who lives at Woodside Gardens. "They wanted us to walk through the woods in the dark to get to the bus stop, and that's a long way away."

A lawyer for the building's owner said the city was asking it to do something unreasonable: pay for the upkeep of an area heavily used by city buses.

At issue is a newly paved parking lot that Woodside Gardens owns and that the city uses three times a day as a turnaround for its buses. Those buses serve up to 100 people each day at Woodside Gardens and the adjacent Newtown 20 public housing project.

The owners of Woodside Gardens say they are burdened with extra costs because of the bus route and note that they just repaved the area where the public buses make their U-turns. The company put up barriers to block the buses.

"All this came to a head because the buses were traveling through the parking lots and causing wear and tear, and my client had to spend large sums of dollars to repave," said Hal Murnane, who represents Alpha Property Management Inc., which owns the housing complex.

"The city made the choice to discontinue public transit," he said.

Eva Anderson, on-site manager at Woodside Gardens, would not comment on the dispute. But in an Oct. 11 letter to James Chase, the city's director of transportation, she warned the city not to "trespass" on private property. The city ignored her warnings.

"Today you resumed the same activity on our newly resurfaced parking lot, which is causing property damage," Ms. Anderson wrote.

Mr. Chase said the city had no choice but to use the parking lot at Woodside Garden because it was the safest turnaround point in the area.

"There's no way we could've made that turn safely anywhere else, because the cars were parked in the other areas," he said.

City officials, citing safety concerns, said their only recourse was to abandon the stop.

Apartment dwellers were dismayed over being rerouted.

"I had to go to the doctor's for the last two days, and I had to go to the other bus stop at 6:15 in the morning, and it was dark and I was scared," Ms. Holland said. "All because they didn't want the bus to go on the blacktop."

As a compromise, the city will turn its buses around a bit farther away, on city property. The city will prohibit parking on part of Brooke Court, and buses will make their turns at the end of the road.

Ward 5 Alderman Carl O. Snowden said although the pick-up and drop-off points are less direct, the compromise is acceptable.

"Anything that will restore bus service back here has to be a victory for the people who live here," said Mr. Snowden, who represents the residents of the complex.

Several Woodside tenants said they didn't care where the buses turned around. They just wanted the service resumed.

"A lot of us are taking our kids to school and going shopping and getting to work, and it's a blessing these buses come back in here," Elaine Young told Mr. Snowden at the public meeting. "I thank the Lord the bus is back in here."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad