City officials are inviting residents who vote at the Eastport Community Center to a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss any concerns about its safety.
The meeting is in response to a series of complaints made by Ward 6 residents who believe the center is not a safe location for them to vote.
In September, two men were shot near the community center; and in June, Orlando Sherman McDaniel, 29, of Annapolis died as a result of gunshot wounds he suffered in the 1100 block of Madison Street, which is nearby.
No arrests have been made in either case, but police believe the September shooting was not a random event, and said they are hopeful about making an arrest.
Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen, Alderman Kenneth Kirby (D-6th Ward) and Alderman Ross Arnett (D-8th Ward) will host the event at the community center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to a press release. Police Chief Michael Pristoop will also be in attendance.
“Eastport has made huge strides in the past few years,” Cohen said in the release. “When you think back just a few years ago to the ‘Stop the Gunfire’ days, Eastport is a much different place now."
The mayor credits the decrease in crime in part to building "positive bridges of communication and partnership," and he hopes this meeting will continue that spirit.
Steven Conn, who has spearheaded the campaign to move the polling location, said holding the meeting at the controversial polling place goes against that spirit—especially holding it there after dark.
He told Patch that he asked the mayor at a private meeting on Tuesday night to move the meeting's location to a neutral space.
"It's a shame [he's] willing to preclude one group of 'stakeholders' who have already expressed Eastport Community Center safety concerns from coming to the meeting instead of asking another group of 'stakeholders' to cross the street," Conn said.
The mayor thought he had consensus on using the center after hearing from several community members who voiced their own reservations about holding the meeting at an alternative location like the fire station on Bay Ridge Avenue, said city spokeswoman Rhonda Wardlaw.
"His staff will go back check that the community center is where people are most comfortable," Wardlaw said.
Read more on this issue:
- Alderman Kirby Proposes Moving Work Session to EastportPolice Decide Against Adding Officers at Eastport Polling Place
- Police Chief Says Eastport Shootings Weren't Random
- Residents Afraid to Vote at Their Polling Place
- City Wrangles With Eastport Shooting