A Frederick County resident is refusing to comply with the demands of a consultant on the downtown hotel project who has threatened to sue him for libel and slander.
Patrick Allen wrote in a letter sent to The Frederick News-Post on Wednesday that he will not apologize or take down comments he posted on Facebook about Mechelle Kerns.
Kerns, who hotel developer Plamondon Hospitality Partners hired as archaeological consultant for the project, wrote in a letter to Patrick and Diana Allen dated Aug. 28 that she would file suit against the couple within 10 days if they did not meet certain conditions. A public apology and removal of the comments were among the conditions she stated in the letter.
She also wrote in the letter that the couple must “cease and desist” posting false information to Facebook about the project and the Birely Tannery.
Patrick Allen has repeatedly raised questions about possible contaminants and other environmental hazards on the site proposed for the hotel and conference center.
Patrick Allen in his response described Kerns’ letter as “extortion,” denying her demands. He wrote that his comments about Kerns were not personal attacks but challenges to “her misleading comments to the public regarding the condition of a 170 year industrial tanning parcel.”
In response to her request that he and his wife stop posting about the project and the tannery, Allen wrote that he “would not be bullied into giving up the first amendment right of free speech.”
As of Friday afternoon, 12 days after Kerns’ letter, online court records did not show any lawsuits against the Allens had been filed.
Kerns on Friday declined to comment when asked if she still planned to sue or had already filed a suit.
The latest project plans call for a 200-room hotel and 24,000-square-foot conference center with onsite parking and infrastructure improvements at the site of the old News-Post building. The property is owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The Frederick News-Post.
in city code enforcement
The head of the city’s Department of Code Enforcement has stepped down from the leadership role, although he still works for the department.
Dan Hoffman, former division manager of code enforcement, asked to leave his position to instead work as one of the department inspectors, according to Kathryn Nicolato, manager of human resources. He officially switched on Sept. 4, and Brittany Parks, the assistant manager of code enforcement, took over as acting manager, Nicolato said in a phone interview Friday.
Hoffman was not available Friday afternoon for comment.
The city will soon begin advertising to fill the position permanently, Nicolato said.
Hoffman joined the department in September 2008 and became director in December 2010. His annual salary in 2015 was $62,068. His annual salary in his new position will be $46,142, according to Nicolato.
Final fundraiser for
Sky Stage public art project
The countdown is on for the long-awaited opening of the open-air theater and public art installation known as Sky Stage. The project to reinvent the vacant General Engineering Co. building on South Carroll Street will open to the public Saturday.
The first free performance will take place that night at 7 p.m., courtesy of the Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise, according to Heather Clark, the artist who designed the project.
Clark, in conjunction with project organizers the Frederick Arts Council and various volunteers, spent most of the summer transforming the burned-out building into an interactive piece of public art. With the final pieces put in place this week, the group has put out one last call for $10,000. A gofundme page recently opened seeking contributions for project costs that were not donated, including insurance, specialty materials and labor, according to the fundraiser page.
As of Friday afternoon, just over $1,000 had been donated toward the $10,000 goal. To donate, or for more information on the project, visit www.gofundme.com/fundskystage.