Clay Street community seeks renovation funds


Concerned that Clay Street's needs too often are ignored, residents of the inner-city neighborhood asked a City Council committee last night for more money to renovate the community's parks, streets and buildings.

"You've got to do something to make people see Clay Street is part of Annapolis city. Annapolis is not just downtown," said Kirby McKinney, who runs Annapolis Youth Services, an outreach program in the Clay Street area.

At a Finance Committee hearing last night, Mr. McKinney and other members of the Clay Street Revitalization Committee asked the city to spend $135,000 on the area in its fiscal 1996 capital budget. The hearing was the first of four on the city's proposed capital and operating budgets.

City Administrator Michael D. Mallinoff said the city already has budgeted $15,000 for Clay Street revitalization and has included the area in the $40,000 it is setting aside to renovate or create new city parks. The city also has allocated $150,000 for the Stanton Center, a community outreach center in the heart of the Clay Street neighborhood.

But residents said this spending comes almost as an afterthought, tossed in the spending plan in small pieces while larger, flashier projects in the tourist-drawing historic district get hundreds of thousands of city dollars.

Clay Street dwellers also asked for the several items for the next fiscal year: $85,000 for physical improvements, engineering and emergency repairs in the entire neighborhood; $50,000 to complete three neighborhood parks; and $20,000 for renovations and latchkey programs at Adams Park Elementary School.

The Finance Committee also heard from West Street residents concerning plans to renovate that area, which borders Clay Street to the south. The city is planning to renovate the West Street area, the site of a proposed conference center for downtown Annapolis, and plans to spend $320,000 on repaving the thoroughfare and studying the need for a new traffic circle.

But West Street residents chastised the city administration last night for postponing that investment until fiscal year 1998.

"Conference center or no conference center, we should be moving forward to provide an environment that businesses would find attractive," said J. Russell Stilwell, a Homewood resident.

Members of the Finance Committee tried to encourage the West Street and Clay Street residents and said both communities should be developed in concert.

Alderman Shep Tullier, a Ward 4 Democrat, said, "We have to do something to improve the aesthetic and make West Street an inviting boulevard . . . but if you can't carry with that the revitalization of Clay Street then I think you're going to defeat the whole purpose."

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