Annapolis Launches First-Ever Public Water Access Plan to Address Equity Concerns

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Annapolis Department of Planning and Zoning, working with financial assistance from the National Park Service (NPS) Chesapeake Office and technical support from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Volpe Center, is seeking public input about how to best expand equitable public water access in Annapolis. Community participation will be an integral component of the planning process, beginning with an online opinion survey launched this week. Over the course of next year, additional public engagement opportunities will include focus groups, community workshops, and stakeholder meetings.

The community survey can be accessed directly at https://arcg.is/0DWS8r with a Spanish translation available at https://arcg.is/0z004O. A dedicated website for the planning effort has been established on the City’s website at https://www.annapolis.gov/1904/Public-Water-Access-Plan where residents and other stakeholders can participate in a community opinion survey and stay informed as the planning process moves forward.

BACKGROUND: When the Annapolis Maritime Task Force was convened in 2020, one area of focus was to strengthen and reconnect residents and businesses to the water. One of the key recommendations included in the Task Force’s strategy document was to create a plan to enhance public access to the waterfront and on-water activities. 

Because water access and on-water activities are not a one-size-fits-all-locations solution, the Task Force determined that the best approach to improve water access needs would be developed through rigorous public engagement. “It’s critical that we bring residents and stakeholders fully into this process,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “While the Task Force identified lingering inequities in public access opportunities, they didn’t lead us to a solution. That’s where the public comes in. We need the public’s assistance to survey our current portfolio, then find out how we address, leverage, and correct these historic inequities moving forward.”

“We are happy to fund and support a key recommendation from the Maritime Task Force regarding public water access planning across Annapolis,” said Wendy O’Sullivan, Superintendent of the National Park Service Chesapeake Office. “NPS Chesapeake and the DOT’s Volpe Center have partnered with the City of Annapolis around a shared commitment to advance equitable community access to our waterfronts, waterways and the Chesapeake.”  

The duration for the project is approximately 12 months. The National Park Service and Volpe Center will be assisting the City with resident and stakeholder engagement that will inform a Public Water Access Plan addressing five core components:

-Comprehensive inventory of all existing Public Water Access Sites; 

-Identification of opportunity Sites for New or Improved Public Water Access;

-Standards for Equitable Public Access Infrastructure; 

-Program and Partnership Initiatives; and

-Alternative Mobility Initiatives on Land and Water. 

An important outcome of the Public Water Access Plan is to prioritize the concrete steps the City and its partners can take now and into the future to improve, enhance, and expand water access within and adjacent to the City limits. 

The planning team is also looking for “Water Access Ambassadors” to assist the planning process with neighborhood insight, public outreach, and focus group participation.  If residents or stakeholders in the business, environmental or educational community would like to get involved, email: ejleshinsky@annapolis.gov

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