The slow pace of the development of the city’s proposed downtown hotel and conference center has resulted in the loss of another state grant.
Longtime hotel opponent Peter Samuel first reported last week that the deadline had passed for the project partners to spend a $500,000 grant form the Department of Housing and Community Development.
But this is no surprise. The deadline to spend the money, which the project was promised in 2016, was June 30. Department officials had said that if a memorandum of understanding between the department, the city, Maryland Historical Trust and hotel developers Plamondon Hospital Partners mapping out mitigation efforts for the historic elements of the site was not signed by then, the money would go away. They had said that a deadline extension — which would have been the second for the grant — was possible several months ago, though. City officials were hoping that would be the case when the deadline came with the agreement still unsigned, but that did not happen.
Sara Luell, the director of communications for the Department of Housing and Community Development, confirmed via email on Thursday that the grant had expired because the deadline came up. She also said city official can “still apply for future competitive funding rounds.”
Mayor Michael O’Connor said Wednesday he is optimistic that as the project moves forward into development, it will receive another grant.
“When we’re ready to move forward with something more shovel-ready … we could get another chance to access those funds,” he said.
O’Connor also expressed frustration with the time it is taking to develop the project.
“The scope [of the project] hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s more a function of timing and the time it has taken with the delegation and the politics in Annapolis. It has slowed everything down. We thought we would spend [the money] in the time we had.”
The grant is not the first one the project has lost. Last year, the deadline for a different $350,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development also came up and the project ended up losing the money.
The public-private multimillion-dollar hotel and conference center is planned for construction at 200-212 East Patrick St. Plamondon is set to pay for the lion’s share of the costs, while the remainder is slated to come from the city, Frederick County and the state.
The Board of Aldermen approved an updated memorandum of agreement with the developers last month. The document maps out the public and private cost share estimates, and development details for the project.
Nice butt, bring it over here
No, that is not a pickup line.
It is the slogan on a set of new receptacles attached to trash cans and sign poles around downtown, the latest effort to cut down on the number of discarded cigarette butts found in the public right-of-way.
According to a news release issued last week, the Downtown Frederick Partnership recently received a Keep America Beautiful grant to purchase 30 cigarette butt receptacles from a recycling company called TerraCycle. Members of the Department of Public Works put them up along Market and Patrick streets, locations that Partnership officials “strategically” chose because they are transition points for pedestrians throughout downtown. Once the receptacles are filled, the butts will be recycled through TerraCycle’s free recycling program.
The receptacles are officials’ response to an effort that city resident Phil LeBlanc spearheaded with a number of Neighborhood Advisory Council 11 volunteers that resulted in the collection of more than 28,000 cigarette butts within a select downtown radius between Feb. 21 and April 17.
The butts are set for display inside a plastic container at the Carroll Creek trellis during the August first Saturday along with informational signage about the problems cigarette litter creates downtown. The event, which members of the NAC 11 litter committee and the city’s sustainability committee are helping put on with the Partnership, is set for 3 to 9 p.m. Aug. 4.