As a resident of Frederick’s south end for more than 30 years, I can report that the neighborhood has improved in many ways over time. However, with rare exception, all such improvement is the result of private-sector investment — citizens purchasing and renovating homes or establishing businesses — despite a neighborhood that continues to face serious challenges.
When the former B&O Railroad train depot at the corner of East All Saints and South Market was designated for use as the Community Action Agency in the 1970s, it made tremendous sense. The vast majority of agency constituents lived nearby. Forty years later, this is not the case. Large pockets of residents in need of agency services now live in neighborhoods several miles east and west of downtown Frederick.
Mike Spurrier’s recent release as director of the Community Action Agency by the city was surprising given his successful 30-plus-year history as department head. He ambitiously expanded the organization to include a medical clinic, a large food bank, temporary overnight shelter, and homeownership counseling, helping untold numbers of people. It will be difficult to find a replacement for someone so accomplished.
However, these services were established in a concentrated manner, apparently without consideration by the city for their density and imbalance of the neighborhood. The city must start acting with greater diligence and oversight regarding the planning and continuing evolution of the south end, including a strategy for the redistribution of Community Action Agency services to various neighborhoods in need.
By doing so, the city will serve more people; support south end citizens in the (municipal tax-generating) investment they have made in their homes and businesses; and further the city’s long-held goal for downtown’s complete revitalization.