Parole: What’s in a Name?
The Parole area has a rich history but some businesses and residents would rather be associated with Annapolis.
In the beginning, this site was to be called Parole Patch. When a recruiter from Patch called to ask if I'd be interested in the editor position, I laughed out loud when she said there was going to be a Parole Patch in addition to a site in Annapolis. There's a lot of new development in the area so I figured someone was confused and didn't realize that Parole is actually in Annapolis.
After I finished talking with the Patch recruiter, I searched online for a map of Parole. To my surprise, my house appeared under the "R" in Parole. I've lived here for nearly a decade and have never once heard my neighborhood referred to as being in Parole. I live in Annapolis — not the city of Annapolis because I don't pay city taxes or vote for mayor. My home address and ZIP code are for Annapolis (21401) so why would I ever think I lived somewhere else?
If I couldn't relate to the Parole name, I wondered if other people would. I asked real estate agents and they all said they refer to the area as Annapolis because that's where people want to live. Businesses frowned when we talked to them about being in the directory for the Parole Patch and kept telling us they are in Annapolis. Technically, Parole is just a census-designated place so everyone in the area has an Annapolis address. To further complicate matters, Annapolis High School is in Parole but Mills-Parole Elementary is in the city of Annapolis.
Then, there is the obvious problem with the name since "parole" refers to the monitoring period of a prisoner after his or her release. Any association with released prisoners is not something a community embraces, despite the fact that the name of this historical area originated from Camp Parole and Civil War prisoners — not convicted felons. Many people mistakenly think the name Parole has something to do with the Detention Center on Jennifer Road.
For long-time residents, the Parole name is associated with the old shopping center that once stood where Route 2 and Forest Drive meet. Some say when Parole Plaza opened in 1961, it was the beginning of suburban sprawl in Annapolis. Parole Plaza became a "shopping destination" with department stores like Woodward and Lothrop (Woodies). However, there was dissension even back then that development in Parole attracted shoppers away from the city's business district.
In the 1980s, the mall opened just a few miles away from Parole Plaza as retail development trends switched from open-air shopping centers to malls. During the 1990s, I was living in Edgewater and remember when Woodies closed and Sears moved to the mall. All of the stores left Parole Plaza, making it a ghost town with boarded-up buildings surrounded by vast, empty parking lots. For a decade, Parole Plaza was an eyesore that sat vacant and decaying while politicians, planners and investors fought over the site.
Now, Parole is a shopping destination again since the Annapolis Towne Centre opened in the fall of 2008. Many people incorrectly refer to the development as the Parole Town Center, which is actually the name of the mall according to a sign at the corner of Bestgate Road and Generals Highway. Still, some people say that the Parole name has such negative connotations associated with it that the developers chose to call it Annapolis Towne Centre. Yet, they couldn't call it Parole Town Center since that name was already "taken" by the mall. The thing I keep coming back to, despite what anyone says or thinks, is the undisputable fact that Parole is in Annapolis.
Regarding the name of this Patch, we concluded that we would be forcing the Parole name on a larger community that calls itself Annapolis. After seeking the feedback of local residents and businesses, we settled on the name "Greater Annapolis Patch" and expanded the coverage area from just Parole to include all of the areas of Annapolis outside the city limits.
We will cover the following areas and neighborhoods in Greater Annapolis: Parole, Bestgate, Rolling Knolls, Epping Forest, Sherwood Forest, Southaven, Heritage Harbour, Hillsmere Shores and Bay Ridge.
City folks, stay tuned. The Historic Annapolis Patch — covering downtown, uptown and Eastport — will be online in just a few weeks!