State agencies still open to comment on Birely Tannery mitigation plan

“We welcome comments from the consulting parties and it is not too late for comments to be considered by DHCD (state Department of Housing & Community Development) and MHT (Maryland Historical Trust.)” So writes MHT’s Beth Cole, administrator project review and compliance who is coordinating the state historic preservation regulator’s effort to craft a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on a Birely Tannery ‘mitigation’ plan with the City.

This agreement is required by state law when state monies are requested for projects damaging to a historic ‘resource’ — in this case to compensate for demolition of the Birely Tannery and heavy construction on a promising archeological site.

City hotel project director Richard Griffin told the Mayor and Board in an Executive Summary for a Workshop February 7 that MHT “provided final comments” January 26, allowing him to claim to City elected officials that the draft he circulated was, in effect, a state approved document. All that was required, Griffin’s ’Next Steps for MOA Completion” said in order for the state agencies to ‘execute’ the agreement was for City of Frederick officials to conduct a public hearing on the draft and endorse it.

A shameless misrepresentation!

MHT had provided some preliminary comments but four weeks later the mitigation agreement remains under consideration, deliberation and negotiation, the state agencies both say.

Goodwin contracted by City

The mitigation plan draft by the City was prepared by R Christopher Goodwin & Associates (Goodwin) archeologists and preservation professionals whose local office is in the Glass Factory at 241 East 4th St.

The City plan was to cost $9,750. A contract to produce the ‘archeological treatment plan’ was based on a letter addressed to Richard Griffin November 28, 2017:


The City Purchasing Manual allows non-competed contracts “based on a requisition from a departmental head (for goods or services) under $10,000.” Above $10k three quotes must be gotten, and above $50k requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) are required.

Priced just below the $10k threshold for getting competitive proposals Griffin could move quickly to hire Goodwin, and on his own, December last year.

The Goodwin proposal includes this: “We understand that time is of the essence for this important element of the MOA…” They promised the ‘treatment plan’ by December 15, 2017.

The independent Frederick Preservation Trust (FPT) in a submission to the state agencies says the City’s draft is almost ‘boilerplate’ : “the current mitigation strategies are insufficient.  When you consider the ‘may’ and ‘as practical’ language contained in the MOA, the Frederick community is simply left with Phase III archaeology, waysigns, photographs, and the salvaging of a stone wall.”

“Time is of the essence” is suddenly Griffin’s theme song. This for a project they’ve been putzing around with for about nine years now.

When newly-elected Mayor McClement embraced Griffin’s project late 2009 it was going to take two years of planning and permitting and two years of construction. In 2010 McClement promised the hotel would open its doors in 2014 at the beginning of what turned out to be his second four year term as mayor. By 2014 it was going to open in 2017 — by the end of McClement’s second term…

Earlier report

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