Senator Astle: I wish I could have intervened to say ‘You’re right, Sir’

Letter to Senator John Astle, vice-chair Senate Finance Committee, longtime senator representing Anne Arundel Co: Sir: I wish I could have intervened to confirm your line of reasoning at the very end of the Senate Finance Committee hearing today – that the Frederick Downtown Conference Center is not ready for consideration for state funding. How right you are!

The project has not yet been submitted to either of the City’s two proudly independent regulatory agencies – the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Planning Commission (PC.) Even City sponsored projects often come out of reviews by these agencies considerably changed. In the case of this project the HPC is quite liable to prune back the mass and height of the building with say 120 rooms rather than the currently touted 207. There will certainly be plenty of Frederick people arguing that at their hearings this summer.

Also the conference center’s currently planned location requires the demolition of the last remaining 19th century tannery which includes a fine square section tapering smokestack 40 feet high and some decent brick buildings. Many feel this is an opportunity for an interesting historic display of artifacts from the period and a commentary about how leather tanning – the leading manufacturing industry of Frederick in the 19th century – evolved and eventually disappeared. So the conference center may need to be located at another site. Next the Planning Commission has yet to consider the project. They have to approve parking provisions, adequacy of streets nearby for the traffic, upgrades of water and sewer. These may affect the cost of the project considerably. Traffic is especially problematic. For some reason the site they chose requires multiple left turns on crowded streets not wide enough for separate left lanes… I could go on.

But you are absolutely correct that this project is not ready for state funding. Its details are way too uncertain. And there are too many issues that need to be resolved here in the City.


Peter Samuel 2016-03-22

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