Frederick’s Republican delegation to the Maryland General Assembly got an earful of criticism this week from an unusual source — the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

Generally speaking, Republicans and chambers of commerce go hand-in-glove on public policy. But here they are divided over the chamber’s number one issue in economic development — the downtown hotel and conference center.

At the chamber’s annual breakfast wrapping up the recently ended General Assembly session, GOP lawmakers were subjected to close questioning and sharply negative reviews, often by chamber members who described themselves as Republicans.

This is because the GOP lawmakers have continued to oppose spending state money to support the hotel project on Carroll Creek. And with four members, half of the county’s delegation, they have been able to block a legislative endorsement of the project.

All four Democratic lawmakers from the county support the proposal, but without a vote of support from the local delegation, it is extremely difficult to get funding.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, taking his cue from the local Republicans, has refused to release $5 million that was appropriated in 2018 for the project. And Democratic leaders of the General Assembly were reluctant to include more money in the budget if Hogan won’t allow it to be spent.

Chamber members may disagree with the Democrats on any number of other issues, but their support for the hotel project was clear. Several members spoke in favor of it, and after one audience member called on the GOP lawmakers to change their position, the applause was loud and sustained.

Two new Republican delegates who were elected last fall — Jesse Pippy and Dan Cox, both of District 4 — said they were skeptical about the use of public money for the project but indicated to the chamber members that they were still listening on the issue.

The other two Republicans from District 4, Del. Barrie Ciliberti (R-District 4) and Sen. Michael Hough, both have long been opposed to any state funding. Ciliberti said once again he is not opposed to the hotel but does not want any public money to support it.

Hough, who had to leave the meeting early, did not address the issue at the breakfast, but he has consistently opposed it. Last December, he told The News-Post:

“The state government shouldn’t be in the business of funding the construction of privately owned and operated hotels. It’s the job of privately owned and operated hotels to operate their own hotels.”

The Democrats, led by Sen. Ron Young, Dist. 3, argued that the agreement between the city and the developer has been clarified and improved, and that the state money will only be spent on infrastructure improvements that will help development in the city.

Chamber CEO and President Rick Weldon said he attended his first meeting where a downtown hotel was discussed 26 years ago, and it was long past time for the project to move forward. Summing up the meeting, he said the chamber is committed to the project, and it will be lobbying Hogan to release the money already approved.

We have said many times that the hotel project is vital to insure the future of downtown Frederick, and that it will promote the economic health of the entire region. The state of Maryland has been helping to pay for development projects for many years in other counties, and this should be no different. Public-private partnerships are the way major developments are almost always done in urban areas.

The easiest way for this project to get back on track would be for Pippy and Cox to heed the call of the local business community and decide to endorse this project. That would break the logjam in the delegation, and Hogan would presumably agree to release the money.

Failing that, we would like to remind the governor that he was re-elected last fall with the votes of a lot of Democrats in this state and indeed in this county. He promised to govern in a bipartisan manner.

When Weldon and other local business leaders come calling, he should remember that. Giving a few GOP lawmakers a veto over this popular project violates the spirit of his pledge. He should accede to the actions of the General Assembly and the wishes of the city of Frederick and get this money moving.

(52) comments

Mardi35

We need to revitalize with sense utilizing the buildings with respect to the community and the historic nature of what makes Frederick. If the bright idea people can't afford it, guess what - go to the government. If the government is going to give them money for it, then maybe they should portion off rooms for the families that are in need and offer them a place to stay there. That would be good solution for my portion of the taxes being taken to pay for it.

Jim Hartley

My wife and I are traveling to Asheville, NC in a few weeks, so we looked for a place to stay on the way. Abington VA has a downtown hotel close to a theater and a farmer's market. So that's where we'll spend the night, and a few hundred dollars. Compared to a motel out by the interstate, it was a no-brainer. Now I hope that the hotel in Abington has convenient parking.

KellyAlzan

Cool story, I bet it was all done with PRIVATE FUNDS!!

Ask them who funded it and get back to us on that.

K, thanks!

petersamuel

FNP editorial: "Frederick’s Republican delegation to the Maryland General Assembly got an earful of criticism this week from an unusual source — the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce." An unusual source? Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce has been peddling this boondoggle for nearly ten years, back to the time when the City's 'point man' for the hotel was local 'businessman' Mark Gaver, the conman now serving a 17 year jail sentence for defrauding his bank of $50 million. Gaver the first chairman of the City-appointed Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee (DHAC) set the pattern for doing the City's hotel business behind closed doors in violation of the state Open Meetings law. The DHAC had strong Chamber of Commerce representation while conducting a fake competed procurement in which the winner (1) was assisted by City consultants (2) got to submit his proposal ahead of the fake RFP being issued (3) used his influence to have the DHAC dump a two-stage competitive procurement in favor of an uncompetitive single-stage quickie procurement. The Chamber of Commerce have unfortunately been up to their necks in this racket from the beginning. Remember too, when the State inquired about the DHAC (and its non-compliance with state open meetings law) the City and the Chamber both described the DHAC as a Chamber of Commerce body in order to weasel their way out of their legal predicament.

KellyAlzan

Peter, awesome reply! You're truly my hero!

Thank you!

Burgessdr

The city was NOT found in violation of Open Meetings law. You are such a liar.

shiftless88

Peter did not make that claim in this post.

gabrielshorn2013

Don, if you're going to use partial quotes, do it properly, "...doing the city's business..." The complete quote is "Gaver the first chairman of the City-appointed Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee (DHAC) set the pattern for doing the City's hotel business behind closed doors in violation of the state Open Meetings law." The city didn't do it, but Gaver did. The convicted con-man.

nbouqu1

Further, the City wasn't cleared of the charge either.

sofanna

I'm so glad there are still some honorable and truthful people in Frederick City and County who tell the truth, not just part of it.

StrengthofLiberty

It is important to contrast the amounts spent on these "private-public partnerships" - or visa versa: the leading county democrat gleefully showcased her parties benevolence by the reveal of the recent "grants" to help build a community of the people: 950K. Now - look at the numbers being proposped to enfuse a corporation (and their associates) with the capital that one has to assume - they do not have - in order to make predictable downtown's competitive edge for their profit. Well - maybe the political class should stop building places to drive to all over the county - to - how is it phrased again: "Live. Shop. Eat. Play." Anyone can smell the powerful aroma of nepotism with all these treasury robbing schemes. Imagine how far the millions would go if directly invested into our nation, our county, and out states most vital natural resource: Human beings. 950K how far does that go before the begging bowl for help is passed around - again and again. Sorry - I just realised - the begging bowl never stops being passed because the money has already been legally parsed out of our public treasuries. Thanks for the inspirational benevolence of the country democratic party - as led by who, or more importantly - what. We have to accept that anyone supporting the building of another parking garage downtown has failed in bold leadership addressing changing transportation methodologies - essentially saying yes to more cars, more fossil fuel emissions, and continuing the "low hanging fruit" method of governance. Given the Leftist penchant for climate crisis doomsaying - one would think cars downtown - would insult their culinary sensibilities. Oh right - our treasuries have paid for more "environmental impact studies." So there is nothing to worry about. I would prefer our treasuries be used to invest in genuine innovation, visionary works of architefture and engineering, and in a society of individuals who make up the health of our mutual culture.

shiftless88

This is a rambling post that is somewhat difficult to parse, but from what I gather you believe that putting in a parking garage and building the hotel is somehow "not green"? While I am against public funding for this boondoggle, I will point out that by having everything downtown it is probably more green than hotels and meeting centers located where the people staying there have to drive to get a meal.

Comment deleted.
KellyAlzan

I suspect that the Randall’s put a clause in the contract for the sale of the FNP, that the FNP advocate for the hotel. Notice, today’s editorial is the same as one from a few months ago. The new owners are fulfilling their contractual obligation.

Comment deleted.
jerseygrl42

well said

jerseygrl42

First of all, why not try to call it what it is, its "TAXPAYER " money , not state money and of course you support it as it will benefit the former owner of this paper along with the Plamondon and thats about all it will do, $13 Million of other peoples money to help out your buddies ...if this is such a bedrock need and will do so much for the city then why isn't it being built like all other private enterprise projects ...you ought to try to keep you hands out of others pocketbooks with projects that will give the taxpayers ZERO ROI....shameful

awteam2000

Aren’t all local, state and federal funds tax payer money? We’re else would the money come from?🤷‍♂️ The question is, “is it in the best interest to the community as a whole”. So I think your questioning whether the investment is good for the community. What’s the return to the community?

shiftless88

Sure there is a benefit to the community. But not as much benefit as there is to two different local wealthy business owners. It's like the recent tax cut; sure the middle class gets a small break but not nearly to the level that the rich folks get.

sofanna

almost ZERO

awteam2000

Wasn’t the $5 million of state funds appropriated in 2018 for infrastructure changes, funds already included in the budget, have already been included in tax projections? So what happens if the funds aren’t released? Do the funds go somewhere else? To some other development outside the county?

KellyAlzan

Remind me again why the Landsdale development in Monrovia was stopped?

FCPS-Principal

Infrastructure upgrades should be paid by the hotel owner. The whole reason for the upgrades is the hotel. The upgrades wouldn't be needed if it weren't for the hotel. Time to portray the real cost of the hotel, not just a portion of it with the taxpayers picking up the rest. Begone with those days.

sofanna

TOTALLY AGREE with you.

gabrielshorn2013

The FNP should look at the results of their own poll yesterday, and stop trying to "business shame" the Republican members. Two thirds of the respondents said no, a quarter said yes, and the remainder apparently thought it was such a stupid proposition that the only way they would support this was if they were given a private suite. I would expect those results to be flipped if there were such a demand for a hotel. The FNP needs to quit shilling for the developers and the CoC. If the CoC thinks this is such a great idea, they can invest their members money on it.

Frayou

“The Democrats, led by Sen. Ron Young, Dist. 3, argued that the agreement between the city and the developer has been clarified and improved, and that the state money will only be spent on infrastructure improvements that will help development in the city.“ Understanding the proposed parking deck is to be under and/or attached to the Government Sponsored “Social Club”. Question? If the Hotel & Conference Center should default and fail forced to file for bankruptcy, how would the Tax supposed infrastructure/assets/parking deck be separated? Possibly give City & County justification to purchase the hotel/conference center to protect tax sponsored assets? Suggest all the more reason why Government Tax money and/or infrastructures should be separated. Possibly this is the main reason a private business in NOT willing to assume total financial responsibility? This proposed arrangement just “smells” of dirty under-the-table politics.

sofanna

Yes it does.

Comment deleted.
gary4books

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gary4books

Looks like the "boo birds" will be out in force.

KellyAlzan

This is the 2nd editorial thebfnp has done for that dumb hotel. If the FNP were true Frederick county natives and truly knew Frederick county, they would have better things to editorial about. Noting like a newspaper that is clueless about our county

niceund

The city should not be sharing a cost for something this trivial with a Corporation the size of the one that wishes to build this hotel. City taxpayers are burdened enough without taking their money to subsidize a large corporation who will only make more money out of the project.

Burgessdr

No city taxpayer funds are being used. Get your facts straight

elmerchismo1

"the state money will only be spent on infrastructure improvements that will help development in the city." Well, yes. The infrastructure improvements are specific to the hotel project, i.e., "development in the city." Without the hotel project, would these projects even be under discussion? So the money is definitely going to the hotel, albeit indirectly.

jerseygrl42

Spot-On

sofanna

Absolutely right, except "they" don't think we are smart enough to see the truth they don't want us to know.

gary4books

What? And ruin all their fun?

Hotels are part of "sin city."

gabrielshorn2013

Got plenty of self funded hotels all around Frederick Gary. We don't need corporate welfare for this one.

gary4books

Hotels are real estate and the major factor is LOCATION. If you step out of a tasting room or a meal with drinks, the decision to stay over a night is based on what is close. if you must drive, you might as well go home.

gabrielshorn2013

Oh come on Gary, how many people are going to decide at the last minute to stay downtown overnight? Very, very few. Will they also shop for clean clothes to put on the next day?

KellyAlzan

Harpers Ferry as a self funded hotel developer, Gary. Why must tax payer money be used in Frederick?

MD1756

Gary, as I pointed out earlier, there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs etc. within 1 1/2 to 3 miles. How many people are coming long distances to only eat or drink. If it's such a good investment I suggest you get a group of supporters together to raise the funds and we'll let you have all the profits. To burgessdr, even if city funds aren't used taxpayer dollars will be used and that's the point... tax payers' dollars from any level of government shouldn't be used unless there will be a clear ROI above inflation and borrowing costs and other potential investments (but really governments should focus on their core infrastructure functions and costs).

KellyAlzan

Donnie - you keep telling people they have everything all wrong and that they don’t know anything. But, it’s you who is wrong. Must be embarrassing to be Donald Burgess.

Burgessdr

Kelly. Since know so much, Exactly how much city taxpayers dollars are going to hotel. Waiting, waiting, waiting, ....

gabrielshorn2013

State taxpayer dollars don. Unless Frederick has moved to PA, Frederick taxpayers are MD state taxpayers, as are those of us outside the city that don't want our money going to help the Plamondons with their boondoggle. Send them a check if you think it's such a can't miss deal.

KellyAlzan

Don, Maryland money is Marylanders money. This includes Frederick, clear spring, Easton, bel air, Hollywood, mechanicsville, Boonsboro, etc

KellyAlzan

Donnie, why is a parking garage being built? Why are modifications to the city owned street being done? Last I read, reported by the FNP, the CITY is paying for those. All subsequent of.......the hotel.

All you have is a mouth.
Complete ignorance.

Burgessdr

KellyAnne. The city builds parking garages to support all businesses downtown.

gabrielshorn2013

Yes they do don, but this undersized one being built for the hotel. Says so in the plans. They even shrunk it to the currently proposed size due to money constraints. The proposed deck now has parking for 50% of hotel occupancy, after that it's full. So where does everyone else get to park? Oh that's right, down the street, and schlep their bags back to the hotel in the dark or rain. Brilliant.

jerseygrl42

the $13 Mil is ALL taxpayer money

Burgessdr

No

gabrielshorn2013

Were talking about the actual upfront money used for "infrastructure improvements" directly related to hotel construction don, and not the theoretical benefits you keep bringing up.

KellyAlzan

No city funds, Donnie?

Why is a parking deck being built? Why are modifications being done to the city’s street? Who exactly is paying for that??

Donnie, All you have is a mouth.
Complete ignorance.

sofanna

Are you getting the FACTS right?

Dwasserba

Resist the drumbeat.

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