((UPDATE: The Board of Estimates approved the $400,000 expenditure today, but not without dissent. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young voted against the agreement. His spokesman, Lester Davis, said Young saw no reason why the city shouldn’t take up the developer’s offer to install a new floating promenade at no charge to the city.
((“That way you can immediately funnel these funds to rec centers,” Davis said, referring to the threatened closing of municipal rec facilities due to budget cutbacks that Young has opposed.
((City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt abstained from voting, while Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her two appointees, City Solicitor George Nilson and Public Works Director Alfred H. Foxx, voted in favor.))
So long floating promenade. The city has reached an agreement with a developer and Canton homeowners to replace a waterborne walkway that skirts pricey townhouses with a brick promenade attached to the shoreline.
The Board of Estimates is expected this morning to stamp its approval on the plan, which will end a 10-year-old dispute and bitter lawsuit between the city, developer Selvin Passen and townhouse owners at the Moorings at Canton.
The city will pay $400,000 of the estimated $1-million-plus cost of replacing the floating walkway with a shore-attached promenade.
Companies controlled by Passen will pay the remaining cost of “$600,000 or more,” while the homeowners association will foot the bill for repairs allowing the new promenade to be attached to the bulkhead, according to city documents.
Slugging it Out
The agreement trumps Passen’s original offer to replace the current structure with an improved floating promenade free of charge to the city.
Passen and others argued that building the promenade on land was impractical and a waste of taxpayers’ money. The city countered that the developer was obliged to build the walkway on the shoreline and was shirking his responsibilities.
Both cited the handicapped to bolster their position – Passen saying his walkway bridge would be fully ADA-compliant, while the city arguing that a land-hugging promenade was safer.
About a dozen homeowners whose properties faced the water were drawn into the controversy when they were included in a lawsuit filed by the city in Baltimore City Circuit Court in 2010.
Since then, the suit was subject to more than 100 separate filings as the City Solicitor’s Office and members of the gated community slugged it out.
Construction of the promenade – matching the specifications of the brick walkway that extends around the harbor from South Baltimore to Canton – should be completed by early 2013, according to Thomas J. Stosur, chief of the Department of Planning.
“We’re pleased to resolve this issue without further protracted legal proceedings being necessary,” Stosur said yesterday.
“We think it is a fair settlement that meets both the priorities of the homeowners association and the goals of the city.”
The settlement will allow the owners of 14 townhouses to retain their backyard patios and other structures that encroach on the city’s 10-foot easement between the bulkhead and the properties.
Kevin J. Pascale, who represented the homeowners association and several other parties in the dispute, said he was not authorized to speak about the settlement.