Falling market

The Baltimore Sun

The sudden departure of four tenants last weekend has left patrons of Annapolis' Market House in the lurch. That's getting to be an awfully familiar place. If there's a public market in Maryland that's had a rougher half-decade, we aren't aware of it.

Flood damage, the ill-fated Dean & Deluca takeover, a slow but expensive renovation, problems with the heating and air conditioning systems - the problems just keep coming.

City officials may say life will go on, but the most recent struggles raise questions about whether they've done right by this community asset.

Market House has always been an important capital landmark and gathering spot. It's popular with locals and tourists alike, a good place to pick up a crab cake sandwich or some other snack on a warm and sunny afternoon, sit by the City Dock and watch the boats and boaters go by, especially as summer approaches.

Is it really this difficult to run a public market? Clearly, a lot of goodwill has been lost (resentment over the turnout of some longtime tenants years ago runs deep). And an economic slowdown may make it all the more difficult to replace the missing businesses.

But Mayor Ellen O. Moyer needs to turn the situation around - promptly. There have been too many misadventures - more than even the most challenging circumstances can justify. A half-empty building does more harm to the city's ambience and reputation than her administration seems to appreciate.

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