For nearly six years, Earl Robbins Jr. headed a group of advocates working toward the goal of bringing a hotel and conference center to downtown Frederick.
Today, the project is still in the works, but Robbins’ tenure on the Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee is through, which the Board of Aldermen recognized with a proclamation Thursday.
The group formed in 2010 and Robbins took over as chairman in 2011. The body’s mission was to help bring the hotel downtown, help develop the request for proposals that went out to developers, and help decide which developer to choose.
The proclamation Mayor Michael O’Connor read Thursday recognized Robbins for his time and effort with the group.
After accepting the proclamation, Robbins said he decided to accept the position as chairman when Mayor Randy McClement offered it to him because he knew his mentor would be excited about it and because he always was excited about it.
“To me, this is the kind of project the Legislature had in mind when they passed the public-private partnership years ago,” Robbins said. “I hope the politics that is holding this project up, I hope the issues can be worked out so the project can move forward, because I think this is a great project for the city.”
The proposed multimillion-dollar, 180-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center planned for 200-212 E. Patrick St. is moving through the design phase with the city’s historic preservation and planning commissions. It has a projected 2020 completion date if all goes as planned.
gained for vehicle charging plan and park space use
Before the clock struck 8 p.m. Thursday, the Board of Aldermen were packing up their things and exiting City Hall after a public hearing that included just three items on the agenda.
Two of the items finalized some ongoing matters in easy 5-0 votes.
The first sets in place an electric vehicle charging plan that Sustainability Manager Jenny Willoughby said will put the city in a positive position to receive state grant funds for installation.
“This is a proactive approach to meet current and anticipated needs of a vastly changing transportation industry,” she said. “If there are grants available, this plan will put us in a very good position to receive some because we have some very good ideas about where we would like to put them.”
The consulting company Energetics highlights suggested actions and policies for electric charging stations in the city in both the short and long terms. According to the staff report, the final plan includes data and technical analyses, information on ownership models, costs and benefits, suggested general locations for stations, a review of existing codes, and an implementation strategy.
The aldermen discussed the plan during a workshop Jan. 17 and asked several questions, which they said were adequately answered before Thursday’s vote.
The second vote Thursday was one that Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak was especially excited to approve, as it dealt with long-awaited development of the Westside Regional Park at Hargett Farm.
The bulk of the future park is set for development into a multi-use recreational spot on land the city owns along Butterfly Lane.
On Thursday, the aldermen unanimously approved a request to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the National Park Service to use space on the site for vehicle, equipment and materials storage in exchange for providing repairs and maintenance for the building and grounds. Park service officials are also set to provide a presence at the property and help facilitate future growth and activity on the parkland through public outreach and educational opportunities as part of the working agreement.
“The National Park Service is, I think, going to be a great tenant there,” Kuzemchak said. “From the plans I’ve seen, it’s going to help refurbish the buildings, make [the property] better to look at. It is going to look much better from the street. ... This is the first of what I think are going to be many, many improvements on that property that are going to make a great change.”