Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak is a Democrat seeking re-election.
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?
Developing a budget is a process. Budget and legislative priorities should complement each other. Safety must be our top priority: police/code enforcement and other departments (Department of Public Works, Permits, etc.).
Quality of life is another priority: smart growth, sustainability, historic preservation, arts, parks, infrastructure, roads, water/sewer and other issues impacting our lives and economic viability.
Equality is also a priority: access to education, job training, affordable living investments with mixed-income opportunities, growing our base of middle-income employers, tax incentives for businesses that employ city residents, tax fairness across income brackets. Proudly, we are making progress on all fronts.
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?
I’ve been clear: I support a hotel/conference center in downtown, if it’s in line with Historic Preservation Commission guidelines. We should invest in this project like all city businesses — with proper infrastructure. It’s easy to play with the term “public dollars.” All taxes are public dollars — and are often spent to support local initiatives and organizations; from providing safe roads and parking garages to supporting nonprofits, like the Downtown Frederick Partnership or Flowers Over Frederick. As long as HPC guidelines are respected, we can draw millions of dollars into our city with a hotel/conference center to benefit our entire community.
2A. Yes or no, do you support demolition of the historic Birely Tannery building for development of the hotel and conference center?
I will support whatever decision the Historic Preservation Commission makes.
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?
I’d rezone the property for mixed-use development with aspirations to develop as a town-center community — a majority for residential and remaining parts retail/general commercial. The mall literally has its own zoning — which is unprecedented. I openly opposed these unique zoning parameters from the start. However, development on this property is now increasingly complicated. The buyer is either able to use the property as a mall or develop the land as currently zoned — general commercial with 20 conditions. To change use of that property, the new owner would have to prove a zoning “mistake” or a “change of neighborhood.”