Barring some sort of unlikely and unorthodox change as the Board of Aldermen set to take office next term, Thursday was the last time a Republican will be voting on city issues for the next four years.
Alderman Phil Dacey, the current board’s lone Republican, announced during closing comments at Thursday’s regular public hearing that he will be on vacation during the last meeting on Dec. 7, thus making Thursday his last meeting.
He described the last eight years — counting both his one term as an alderman and the four he served on the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals before he was elected — as “a privilege and an honor.”
“I want to say thank you to each one of you up here,” Dacey said, addressing his four fellow board members.
“I think we together have worked well as a team the way elected officials should in the spirit of service,” he continued. “I’ve disagreed personally with each of you at different times over the last four years. I’ve never taken it personally when we have disagreed, we’ve had spirited discussions and kept to the issues. I’m really proud of our board’s performance, it’s something that I can be proud of personally and I just wanted to say thank you to each one of you for the opportunity to serve alongside you and thank you for those of you continuing to serve Frederick.”
Dacey has said he plans to pursue an at-large county council position in 2018 and said Thursday he will likely have an announcement regarding his future political plans in the coming weeks.
The other aldermen echoed some of Dacey’s comments Thursday, speaking to the professionalism and cohesiveness of the board in working toward the greater good of the city even though they did not always agree on all of the issues. They also all heartily thanked Dacey for his time and service.
Democratic Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, who will return for a second consecutive term beginning after the new board’s Dec. 14 swear-in, described the board she has served with the last four years as the best group of elected officials she has ever served with. Kuzemchak also served on the board for three terms before her current term from 1998 to 2009.
Democratic Alderwoman Kelly Russell will also return to the board, likely as the president pro term, after earning the most votes in November’s general election.
While Alderman Michael O’Connor, who is also a Democrat, will replace Republican Mayor Randy McClement Dec. 14, Alderman Josh Bokee will be hanging up his political hat.
Three political newcomers — Democrats Derek Shackelford, Roger Wilson and Ben MacShane — will slip into the open spots on the board at the swear-in, thus setting the next four years up for an all-Democrat show behind the dais.
The swear-in ceremony is set to kick off at 1 p.m., Dec. 14, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.
Private meeting narrows down ideas for historic mitigation for hotel project
Frederick Economic Development Director Richard Griffin brought six flip charts with information about mitigating the historic elements of the Birely Tannery building for the proposed downtown hotel and conference center to a private meeting last week with representatives and stakeholders.
The meeting was the second members of the Maryland Historical Trust and state Department of Housing and Community Development hosted to help develop a plan for adequately preserving the historic elements of the tannery building and site, which the city’s Historic Preservation Commission have determined are contributing resources to the Frederick Town Historic District.
The tannery building is set for demolition as part of the plans to construct a multi-million dollar hotel and conference center at 200-212 East Patrick St. with both public and private dollars.
Griffin said the group, which included project partners, key stakeholders and representatives from local groups that have missions related to preserving cultural resources, spent about two hours Tuesday brainstorming ideas for mitigation. The ideas, which were noted on six flip charts, included plans for archeological work and public art to using materials from the demolished tannery building in the construction of project facilities. Specific ideas like having a video that explains the historic details, and displaying interpretive signage and artifacts within the hotel and conference center and surrounding areas were all thrown around, Griffin said.
“People want to tell the story about the tannery and the human component, the human capital, telling the story of what life was like at that time,” he explained.
He pointed out that it is more than just the building, but also the archeology of the site, that is historic, as tanning was not actually performed inside the building. That fact and others about the operations that began in the 19th Century are important to include in the plans, Griffin said.
Once the list is narrowed down and formulated members of the Trust, DHCD and the developers will go through it and choose which things make the most sense for mitigation and bring it back to the Historic Preservation Commission, Griffin said.
Meetings like the one held Tuesday are required as part of the Maryland Historical Trust Act of 1985’s consultation process, which requires state agencies to consult with the Trust on projects receiving assistance. The downtown hotel project is set to receive money from the DHCD. Representatives from the department formulated the guest lists and invited attendees. Griffin explained the meetings are not required to be open to the public, however he said members of the public will have plenty of chances to weigh in on the decisions at future public city government meetings.
According to the existing project budget, developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners are planning to fund construction of the hotel and conference center with $16.5 million of city, county and state money to be used for amenities such as land acquisition, site preparation, utilities and on-site public parking.