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Conflict and criticism of the downtown hotel and conference center project has spread to the 2018 election campaign, including among the three Democratic candidates vying to represent District 3A in the Maryland House of Delegates.

In a race largely characterized by agreement and shared viewpoints, the multimillion-dollar project has divided delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young from challenger Ryan Trout. The rift was briefly highlighted in a forum on Tuesday hosted by the progressive advocacy group Our Revolution Western Maryland and further detailed in follow-up interviews.

Latest project details, outlined in a drafted but not yet final agreement between hotel developer Plamondon Hospitality Partners and the city of Frederick, call for a 199-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center at 200-212 E. Patrick St. There would also be on-site parking and other public infrastructure improvements.

The $79.5 million price of the project combines about $62 million in private funding from Plamondon with $17.5 million from the city and county governments and the state capital budget.

The public-private partnership used to fund the project has attracted controversy and criticism from local residents as well as some members of the Frederick County delegation, who in recent years have opposed including additional money in the state’s capital budget for the project. Despite divides in the delegation and other detractors, delegates Krimm and Lewis Young have remained staunch supporters of the project and the inclusion of state funding to support its development.

Trout, however, questioned certain elements of the project.

Among his concerns was that project agreements thus far have not specified the salaries and benefits for workers employed by the project — both in the construction as well as the continued operation of the hotel and corresponding services. For Krimm and Lewis Young, who both pledged support in the forum for bringing jobs with living wages and adequate benefits to Maryland, to champion a project where there are no guarantees that its future employees will make enough money to afford basic costs of living was “hypocritical,” Trout said.

Though he acknowledged he did not know exact salaries or benefits intended for these workers, Trout noted that service industry employees typically do not earn high wages. Referencing a recent report commissioned by the United Ways of Maryland that suggests one-third of Frederick County families did not earn enough to afford basic costs of living, he feared the project would perpetuate their socioeconomic struggle.

Trout framed it as taxpayers being on the hook twice, both in the taxes that provide public funding for the project, and again when its employees turn to taxpayer-funded social welfare programs such as food stamps and housing subsidies because their wages don’t cover these needs. He called for project organizers and supporters to “take a step back” until agreements ensuring living wages and benefits were included.

In response, Krimm said that expectation was unrealistic, noting that since the developer’s funds are paying for the hotel, it’s up to the company to set the wages and benefits of its future hotel workers.

As for construction, she pointed to recent demand for skilled workers creating a competitive enough environment that she believed would offer higher wages.

Lewis Young also defended her stance, calling Trout’s criticism narrow-minded in light of the big-picture benefits the project will bring.

“To make the whole project a go-no-go over getting a signed decision on a living wage is very shortsighted,” Lewis Young said. “You need to look at the bigger picture of how many other jobs it will create, how much incremental employment ... this project is a driver for economic opportunity.”

Both emphasized that such an agreement was a matter for the city of Frederick to decide, not the state Legislature.

“If [Trout] feels it’s an important issue, he should go to the city and express this reasoning,” Krimm said.

The disagreement between the two incumbents and their challenger contrasted with the largely congenial forum featuring the three candidates earlier this week.

The three shared similar perspectives on support for universal health care, renewable energy, public education and job creation and training programs, among other topics.

The forum also featured brief introductions from the Democratic candidates seeking to represent District 3B and 4 in the House of Delegates.

District 3A includes the city of Frederick and surrounding areas. Delegates serve four-year terms and earn $50,330 annually.

The 2018 primary election is June 26, and the general election follows on Nov. 6.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

(21) comments

gary4books

"Can't never could."

KellyAlzan

In the world of business, it does not pay to deceive people. It does however, pay to be upfront and honest.

There are MANY flaws with this hotel plan. Peter Samual and others have accurately pointed out the issues, the lies, and inconsistencies.

Any politician that believes in this project, and politician that advocates this project - is either blind and ignorant, or a fat liar.

Seriously - take ALL public monies out of the equation and find a developer that is 100% self-funded

mrnatural1

Testify! [thumbup][thumbup]

mrnatural1

FredCo needs an "Earthpark"! Then we could PACK that hotel!:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15061688/ns/us_news-environment/t/site-chosen-million-earthpark/#.WxL1lkiUtPY

OK, so it didn't work out so well in Iowa. THIS time it'll be different!

"Alright Lucy, you hold this football, and Joe & Janet taxpayer will come running and kick it! You promise to not pull it away, right?"

AnotherFineMess

As usual the FNP misleads the public on that dreaded parking issue:

“call for a 199-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center at 200-212 E. Patrick St. There would also be on-site parking”

Woefully insufficient parking for the hotel and NO onsite parking for the conference center. It will never survive and I agree with The previous comment regarding the lack of any major attractions to draw and keep people here. It will be cheaper to stay at other hotels in the area and you’ll be able to park there too! I have yet to see what infrastructure improvements are planned other than hotel entrances.?

Mostly low wage, no benefit jobs and “skilled labor” is what you find in an aerospace facility not in seasonal, short term hotel construction or the service industry.

I love downtown but I admit I’m tired of the dog poop, vagrants and panhandlers and the ever present damage (broken windows, destroyed planters...) left over from the drunken bums on Market St.

AnotherFineMess

Oh, let me edit that:
“Skilled labor” is what you find in an aerospace facility not in seasonal, short term hotel construction or the service industry consisting of mostly low wage, no benefit jobs!

KellyAlzan

Plamandoon employs Latino immigrants to clean hotel rooms. So to the “bringing jobs”, Big wow, 12$ per hour jobs. Hardly nothing.

Scott_grimes1

Well, I don't think Krimm knows what she is talking about. ""Recent demand for skilled workers" which will last about what?....a year at best, and generally none of these constructions will actually hire anyone new to build the hotel. Cheaper to just pay existing workers OT if they need to, don't want to add any new FT employees tot he payroll, so you do not have to pay those bloated insurance premiums Obamacare brought on, by these same progressives were all for. However Mr Trout, yes look at the big picture. Most of the jobs will be those same PT jobs needed by many in Frederick in that survey on the front page will need. Also big picture, it will add some FT positions under the Plamondon umbrella, which allows chances to lower premiums as you have more buying power. But reality check, Frederick is making the same mistake I have seen in large tourist oriented economies. Economy makes or breaks you, and conference centers have to be called into question as technology makes travel less necessary. I have heard none of those observations by anyone. So many are myopic on this subject. You want goodpaying jobs? Tourist hospitality industry will not provide it...EVER. Only when you are producing tangible products people want or need do you have good paying jobs. Tourism, conferences is very discretionary, one of the first things to get cut from budgets, personal and business.

jerseygrl42

These "new numbers" do not include the property abatement that taxpayers will shell out for, once the City owns it.....and the only benefactor here is the Plamondon family.....$17Million + and the return is NOTHING for the taxpayers; some folks just love wasting other peoples money...

DickD

Plamondon has been notorious for low pay and hotel workers have too, This hotel is no panacea for the poor and it will cost us more in tax dollars.

huskycats

Don't even bother Gary, she's hopeless

Frayou

“Latest project details, outlined in a drafted but not yet final agreement between hotel developer Plamondon Hospitality Partners and the city of Frederick, call for a 199-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center at 200-212 E. Patrick St.”. I’m sorry. I can not envision this facility to be self-supporting. 199 rooms to be filled by customers visiting downtown based on City attractions? Specialty shops, restaurants, breweries, and/or City sponsored social, seasonal and recreational activities?

Dwasserba

Weddings and funerals too

Frayou

Too many other options, venues and hotels. Likely less expensive as well.

KellyAlzan

We have no scenic river such as harpers ferry has - we have a man made concrete trough know known As Carroll crick.

We do not have Amish farm fields with Amish farm families. We have The Vilages of Urbana with Latino carpenters.

We do not have any colonia old city. We have Hillcrest Drive.

We have no naval academy. We have university of FCC

Frederick city has nothing of interest to justify this hotel.

mdcommuter

Thank you--at least I laughed at your comment when so many of the other articles and comments in this rag make me furious. The hotel conference center and CycleFit are both moneyed-class ventures asking taxpayers to take the risks. Sickening!

gary4books

[smile]

mcrider

If the dems can't even agree on it,....you KNOW it's a BAD idea.

KellyAlzan

The ladies Te clueless

gary4books

You do know that people will remember this "comment?"

KellyAlzan

I hope everyone remembers everything

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