REPRINT: No quarterback for the downtown hotel? Letter to Editor FNP

No quarterback for the downtown hotel? Frederick News-Post, March 29 2018

You report (Mallory Panuska’s story published on March 24) Mayor Michael O’Connor as wondering whether there’s been a “quarterback” or anyone driving the city’s downtown hotel project. Initiated in 2009, it’s been a barely moving jalopy. Nine years later, they don’t have a workable site plan or permits, and funding is in doubt. Nine years. What a fiasco!

If there is a quarterback, he’s been calling some very bad plays. The call on the site was just one blunder — almost no usable street frontage, awkward access, too small for what they’re trying to build, historic buildings in the way.

The city quarterback has been trying to recruit state agencies as players, and one after another after they welcome him, and time passes then they lose confidence and finally knock him back — first Maryland Stadium Authority, then Maryland Economic Development Corp., now Department of Housing and Community Development. He’s lost the governor too.

The latest call has been the idea of building a sunken parking garage, size undecided, cost unknown, underneath the hotel. To be a city venture, this puts on taxpayers all the risk and cost of building in an old flood plain subjected to 250 years of landfill and industry, many of those years when toxic waste was just dumped there or flushed down the creek. A desperate call, that one.

Maybe it’s the “game” itself that’s the problem, Mr. Mayor. Maybe developing a hotel is a “game” the city should not be playing.

Peter Samuel, Frederick

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