Peter Samuel, a longtime opponent of the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center, has struck again with an allegation that city staff members and elected officials violated Maryland’s Open Meetings Act when they settled the terms of the request for proposals for the project in 2013 and 2014.
Samuel filed a complaint with the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board on Wednesday alleging city officials violated the city’s resolution on Purchasing Policies and Procedures by not meeting publicly before sending out the request in February 2014. He cites the resolution, which states that the mayor and Board of Aldermen must approve all solicitation documents and backup materials for contracts of $50,000 or more. He alleges that the mayor and board at the time had several closed-door meetings with the secretary of the city’s Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee and the economic development director. He added in the complaint that other narrowly focused issues of public policy were involved in the procurement process as well that deserved open discussion and a public vote.
Mayor Michael O’Connor, who was an alderman at the time of the alleged violations, said members of the city’s legal department will review and evaluate the complaint and issue a formal response.
“The law requires us to respond, and we will do that. We will evaluate the facts,” he sad.
As an elected official and member of the board at the time the alleged violations occurred, though, O’Connor offered an additional response.
“I was on the board at the time [Samuel] said there were closed meetings, and I will say I have never had a closed meeting in violation of the Open Meetings Act,” he said. “For me, it’s categorically untrue. ... My position, not as the mayor of Frederick, but as an elected official, is that I resent the implication.”
City officials awarded the RFP to developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners in 2014. The project has evolved since the initial award into a proposed four-story, 180-room hotel, 20,000-square-foot conference center, neighboring retail building and courtyard planned for 200-212 E. Patrick St. along Carroll Creek. The multimillion-dollar project is set to come to fruition with both public and private dollars, with the lion’s share to come from the developers and the remainder coming from the city, Frederick County and state of Maryland.
Joining the likes of the mayor and two fellow aldermen, Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak and Alderman Derek Shackelford are the latest elected officials to schedule time to talk with their constituents over coffee.
A news release issued Friday by Public Relations Coordinator Patti Mullins said the aldermen scheduled “special time” with the public from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Denny’s on West Patrick Street. The session is open to anyone, and the aldermen pledged to answer questions and listen to comments from those who show up.
Aldermen Ben MacShane and Roger Wilson held a similar question and answer session March 24 at Dublin Roasters and the mayor held one March 9. Given the popularity of the mayor’s session, he has since scheduled two more for April 23 and April 27.
Deadline approaching for travel grant applications to visit German sister cities
Frederick County high school students interested in visiting Frederick’s German sister cities this summer have a couple of more weeks to apply for a travel grant.
The Frederick Sister Cities Association is awarding a grant to a qualified student to visit the city’s two German sister cities — Schifferstadt and Moerzheim — in July.
The grant will cover round-trip airfare to Germany and provide contact with host families for five-day stays in each city.
Interested students must be 16 years old by the end of 2018, must be able to communicate in German, and submit an application with a one-page essay by April 15. The students must describe themselves, state their future goals, and explain why they want to travel to Germany, as well as how the trip would benefit them, and what they hope to learn from the trip in the essay.
For more information, to obtain an application, or to make a contribution toward the trip or other association activities, email Steven “Fritz” Buckingham at email@example.com. For information about the association and Frederick’s sister cities, visit https://fredericksistercitiesassociation.weebly.com.
The Frederick Sister Cities Association is an affiliation of the nonprofit Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. The association supports cultural relations between the United States and Germany.