School board stalls garage talks again

The Annapolis Capital reports:

The county Board of Education again refused to enter into discussions with Annapolis officials about building a parking garage behind Annapolis Elementary School.

Board members said Wednesday the city failed to answer their requests for information. They were concerned about holding up renovations to the downtown elementary school, which are scheduled to begin in July.

This was part of a jam-packed school board agenda that included discussions of redistricting and County Executive John R. Leopold’s $572.5 million fiscal 2013 school budget.

Speaking at the meeting Wednesday, Annapolis officials said city staff had been working closely with school employees for months to answer every question posed about the garage proposal.

Developer Jeremy Parks of Compromise LLC wants to build a $25 million garage at no cost to the city government.

That proposal calls for a garage to be built on the school’s parking lot. It would require the playground to be moved.

The site now includes an 8,800-square-foot playground, a 6,700-square-foot asphalt play area, a 5,850-square-foot basketball court and the 7,000-square-foot Newman Street Park.

The playground is owned by the city.

Members of the school community have signed petitions against the proposal, and board members said they’ve been bombarded with calls and emails from people on both sides of the issue.

“It’s a divisive issue,” said Andrew Pruski, the board’s vice president. “The biggest piece is getting all the facts. The whole board needs clarity.”

For example, he said, he learned through an article in The Capital that Mayor Josh Cohen was withdrawing his support for the idea but has yet to hear directly from the mayor or his staff.

“I would like it in writing,” Pruski said.

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