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As Long as We Remember...

August 26, 2002

Another Waste Of Tax Dollars, And Still No Answers

David 'Kip' Koontz

Last week an outside source, after studying Frederick and getting paid $100,000, has made recommendations for questions that should be asked about the future of our fair city. Upon review of the suggestions, a couple of people sitting in a TV room watching a football game and drinking a few cold ones could have come up with them for a lot less money.

Of course, considering that Frederick is viewed more and more often as a fiefdom of Herzonner, Jenita Dougherty, who, by the way, at a recent luncheon actually relished in the fact that her sir name is equatable to that of her apparent role model, Evita Peron, as Mrs. Peron's maiden name was Duarte, which, according to Jenita, means the same thing linguistically as Dougherty. Weird, huh? It is curious that they are even going through the charade of asking for public comment.

The hearings will most likely be at 1:30 P. M., or maybe 3 P.M., or hey, for the night owls, let's do 2 A. M. or 4 A. M. to insure only those who support Jenita's vision of Frederick will be on hand to give their views.

Of course, if you manage to make it - don't forget to raise your hand and wait for the benevolent (hah!) one to recognize you before you speak.

This consulting firm raised six questions we should review to help plan for Frederick's future.

First question: "What is Frederick's role in the region?"

Hmmm. A cynic might say it is to be the board on which Jenita plays her game of governing.

Others might say it should be a hub of business and industry of commercial and economical vibrancy, a city blended with quaint historic charm and the most modern conveniences, and a hometown where a sense of community is cultivated no matter where one lives in the city or who you are.

Fat chance that will happen with Jenita on her throne.

Second question: "How much will Frederick grow and how much should it grow."

Well, being that we have a water moratorium in place, it ain't growin' at all.

Be that as it may. Those with reasonable heads realize that good growth is needed to help bolster the tax base, to help keep housing costs down and provide adequate and affordable housing and economic opportunity for those who live and move here.

Third question: "How can the city provide water to new businesses and homes?"

This is actually an odd question to ask city residents to offer advice on. How will we know where the potential water sources are that we can suggest the city pursue?

Well, it has been suggested that if we shower with Jenita (so she can keep track of the ounces of water used and cut us off at our allotted amount) in order to free up enough water to let others have some water to use - even if that thought is more than terrifying to most.

Actually, it took 20 years for this water mess to come about.

Three mayors and a whole lot of city staffers ignored the possibility that water shortfalls could occur as they simply thought the Monocacy River would fulfill our needs now and forever.

Warning signs were there that it wouldn't, and it is said that the numbers were cooked to show that all things were fine with the amounts of our water intake when they were not.

Of course, we can not go it alone when it comes to water. But how fast will Jenita relinquish some of her control to participate in discussions with other jurisdictions in the region to coordinate a water plan?

Will it even be an option?

In the meantime every and all efforts to locate water sources must be pursued - and, gosh darn it - we still want to know where those three wells are that Jim Grimes and his team assured us were there and ready to go in order to alleviate our water woes.

Did he take them with him to Ijamsville? Didn't they exist, or as cynics might ask, "Does Jenita have them under lock and key ready to tap at the very last minute and save the day?"

Fourth question: "What is the need for affordable housing?"

A recent conversation uncovered that a house built just three years ago in Dearbought for about $210,000 sold recently for $365,000.

Is that affordable housing for most?

Rents across Frederick are pushing Montgomery County rates and, while it seems to be a nice project, the refurbishing of the Francis Scott Key Hotel into apartments is getting grant money so that it can accommodate "affordable housing."

Based on the criteria for Frederick to meet "affordable housing" standards, this facility will rent to folks with a $50,000 and up salary and that means we are pricing many people out of the housing market.

Of course, if we do not develop a plan that allows construction to continue and encourage a variety of homes and apartments at a variety of price, affordable housing will be a thing of Frederick's past.

Maybe it will simply depend on what type of people Jenita wants living in Frederick - after all she's in charge now.

The fifth question: "How many parks does the city need and what kind of parks should they be?"

Can we have enough parks?

Frederick boasts 61 official city parks.

Uh huh. Some are simply plots of dirt with some grass that do not always get mowed and have outdated playground equipment if it has any of all.

That is really a matter of where they are located, classism at it's worst - i.e. the "parks" around Sagner for instance could only be considered a park if, say, one was in a war torn country.

It is embarrassing.

Further the services the city offers our youth are concentrated downtown so that kids from the west end, Whittier, and so forth, can't get to them as we do not offer transportation for the kids to get from their homes to the facilities where the programs occur.

On top of that, the city's youth services building is sinfully dilapidated.

Not that long ago a request for money to make building improvements was met with questions from the mayor and board that basically put the onus of responsibility on the youth services department to beg for funds when most of these folks ran on pledges of helping children.

They certainly were not bending over backwards asking the simple question, "How much will it take to fix it properly?" but instead looked for the cheapest way out and wanted to know how much it would cost to make temporary repairs.

Parks should be fully functional and up to date places for kids, families and singles to recreate and enjoy, period.

Maybe, Jenita, like in Pinocchio, will round up all the kids and put them in prisons, though that wouldn't make a very good publicity shot when the lieutenant governor is in town to break ground for the next park upgrade.

Oh, well, after all the statues to Jenita are erected, there won't be enough room for people to have fun anyway - we will just stand and stare in awe at the aura of all that is Jenita.

The sixth question: "What can city government do to improve the quality of residential, commercial and industrial development?

Well, Jenita fixed that up good when she appointed former Greater Frederick Development Corporation (GFDC) head Richard Griffin to lead the Office of Economic Development.

Farce. This is simply GFDC under city control.

The GFDC and Mr. Griffin has brought in no jobs, no business, nadda, nuttin' , zippo.

True, Mr. Griffin knows about grant writing, and so forth, to make downtown pretty and more historic, but thus far no matter how many meetings with fancy names like "charat" he holds, nothing is moving forward and, yawn, we are bored with it all.

Anyhow, with Mr. Griffin spending all his time downtown, the poor Golden Mile merchants will continue to languish as they get no Legacy money or Mainstreet money and since the GFDC, oops, Office of Economic Development, is specializing in spending money downtown, Frederick's future will be, at least in the Jenitaista regime, a continued waste of time and energy focusing only on one area of the city.

Well, in case you didn't know, there is great infrastructure in place on the Golden Mile if anyone bothers to check it out - would be easy to upgrade out there.

Frederick Towne Mall could use some help attracting businesses but (yes, it isn't on Carroll Creek) attempts by the mall to make improvements in parking, and so on, in order to attract more stores has been thwarted by several city administrations while shopping options went south into the county.

A study done several years ago showed that over 70% of Fredericktonians live within 2 miles of Frederick Towne Mall and the Golden Mile, yet we hear of no plans to help boost re-development there.

Plus, why doesn't the city buy the old state police barracks, put a substation on the first floor and use the upper floors for city offices?

Sure as heck beats spending millions on the Masonic Temple building.

Additionally, there is parking at that site where downtown city employees could park and be shuttled to and from their downtown offices so they don't feed the parking meters (well past the 2 hour parking maximum) all day which takes parking away from those who need to do business with the city or live in the vicinity of City Hall.

Also, appropriate development around the airport is an ideal place for certain types of mixed-use commercial development if any one actually realizes it's out there.

Residential development needs to encompass all price points so all people can afford to live here.

Oh, well, this is all hypothetical anyway as this drought doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. So we can't build anyway.

Would be interesting, though, to attend another meeting where one can express his or her views that will most likely be ignored anyway, because don't forget, Jenita "is mayor" and will do as she pleases, thank you.

Oops, spoke out of turn, wasn't recognized by the chair.

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