Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Man Behind The Market House

During the course of Ellen Moyer's 5-year tenure as Mayor of Annapolis, few issues have created as much heat for the administration as has the mishandling of the renovation and leasing of the Market House. During the 2005 election, her opponents bludgeoned her with the issue, and every time it seems like it's been laid to rest, it pops back into the papers.

There's no question that the Mayor deserves a good deal of the responsibility for how the matter has been handled, but the day to day details like handling the property's lease, making sure the renovation goes smoothly, and working with surrounding businesses to ease their discomfort throughout the process should not primarily be hers. They should be delegated to someone like the City Administrator, Robert Agee, who can carry them out competently on behalf of the Mayor.

Unfortunately, it appears that they have been delegated, but not acted on competently.

The latest embarrassment concerns Administrator Agee giving away, rent free, two prime parking spaces in the Market space to two downtown tour companies, Annapolis Carriage and Discover Annapolis Tours. As Chairman of the Parking Board, Chuck Weikel said, "There is an equity issue there. Nobody is paying for it." Of course, the employees and owners of the other businesses in the surrounding area either have to pay to park in a local garage or feed meters when they come downtown to work, a situation made worse by the fact that City Department of Central Services bungled the air conditioning calculations on the Market House. The temporary generator and air-conditioning unit currently occupy four additional parking spots at the Market space.

At almost every step, the Market House transition has been botched. It's disappointing to see that the City Administration has such a difficult time learning from its mistakes.

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