Ben MacShane is a Democratic candidate for alderman.
1. The aldermen vote annually on the city’s fiscal budget. What do you believe are the three biggest budget priorities? Are there any places where you would insist on more or less spending?
Our annual budget must start with funding public safety. We also need to invest in forward thinking infrastructure and basic services’ improvements based on smart growth principles so that our city stays ahead of development. Maintenance of our parks and recreation facilities, which play a vital role in creating quality of life for our families, must be a priority as well. As alderman, I’ll bring my background as an entrepreneur and business owner to the city government. We can operate more efficiently and increase investment in services to more effectively address pressing social issues including the opioid epidemic and homelessness.
2. Now that the proposed downtown hotel and conference center is in the design phase, with public dollars not slated for construction or operation of the buildings, what are your thoughts on the city investing in the project?
Private development needs to be funded by private investment, but judicious supplementary public financing for related public infrastructure is an effective way to ensure that projects meet the needs of our community. Development in Frederick must be compatible with the historic character of our city. Revitalization of the historic trolley building is crucial to the hotel project but new construction components must also be held to a high design standard.
2A. Yes or no, do you support demolition of the historic Birely Tannery building for development of the hotel and conference center?
When our Historic Preservation Commission releases their assessment of the Birely Tannery, I look forward to learning how the building needs to be preserved or incorporated into the hotel project.
3. The Frederick Towne Mall property was recently sold to a buyer who has been pretty quiet about development plans. What would you like to see developed at the site?
Redevelopment of the Frederick Towne Mall must be based on a thorough needs assessment of the surrounding communities and a realistic understanding of the economic possibilities that the site offers. Neighborhoods near the Golden Mile are isolated from commercial centers in other parts of Frederick. A development plan based on securing businesses and services that local residents are currently lacking can be both economically successful and socially responsible. A walkable development that is integrated with the adjacent neighborhoods and Rock Creek could provide a prosperous anchor for the Golden Mile and nearby communities.