CHESAPEAKE BEACH, Md. – On Thursday, September 14th, the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce held its State of the County Breakfast at the Rod ‘N Reel. A delicious spread and networking with members of the Chamber took place at 8:00 a.m., and the forum began at 9:00 a.m. The event was hosted by Mark Frisco of the Century 21 Mark Frisco Team, who is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
The Calvert County Board of Commissioners consists of Mike Hart (Vice President), Catherine M. Grasso, Earl F. “Buddy” Hance (President), Mark C. Cox Sr. and Todd Ireland.
Many questions were answered on a plethora of subjects; topics were raised from crime to the Solomon’s Bridge to how the county was doing financially and more.
Logan, of the Young Professionals Network asked the Board what the Board was doing for the future leaders of this county and how this network can be more involved. The Board appreciated his questions and said, “You all are the future of this town, so it all begins today.” The Board suggested recruitment into law enforcement, connecting with other Chamber members for mentoring/advisement in different fields and continuing to be a presence in current community events.
Another issue that the Commissioners spoke about was crime. Sherriff Cox was present to give statistics and a general understanding. According to Cox, “Crime is relatively low in comparison to neighboring counties. We do our best to keep traffic moving along through Prince Frederick and Dunkirk. Most of the higher crime areas are in densely (rented) housing areas. I’m proud to say that we’ve managed to keep crime at a low rate by placing officers in certain areas to avoid a higher rate, but we are facing issues involving recruitment. We’d like to see more people applying to become members of the force.”
Cox did mention that plans were in place to set up an office in Lusby and Dunkirk to help with crime in those areas, and the officers who must go to headquarters in Prince Frederick would be able to work out of more convenient locations.
Of course, the Solomons Bridge (officially the Thomas Johnson Bridge) was brought up, and the Board spoke about how for there to be a newly built bridge, it would involve a private company to do so and toll roads to pay for it. They unanimously agreed that the bridge plans would not be moving forward anytime soon. They described it as “highly doubtful” and that the state of Maryland is more concerned with Route 50 and the Bay Bridge. Plus, they would have to get St. Mary’s County to agree, and most constituents do not want to pay a toll.
They did announce that the 301 Bridge (officially the Harry W. Nice Bridge) will receive upgrades, and three new turning lanes will be created to accommodate the extra flow of through traffic. These lanes are currently in the design phase.
Another problem addressed was the vacant lot of the Holiday Inn in Solomons Island. While a few proposals have been presented for the use of the building, they all involve rental housing exceeding the limits of the legal housing code (zoning laws) for that area. To accommodate any current proposals, the Commissioners would have to restructure zoning laws in numerous areas in the southern county. Also noted was, “The constituents don’t want more rental or temporary housing down in that area. We don’t want to end up like PG County, where there is a higher crime rate, more traffic, more road infrastructure, and everything that comes with rental housing. We want people that are here to stay.” (Most rental housing in Calvert County is in Prince Frederick and Dunkirk, where “mixed zoning” laws [housing within a commercial/housing lot] are available.)
Also mentioned were the many local businesses desperate for workers, but finding “good” employees was hard to come by. The Chamber agreed. What was not brought into question was if businesses were willing or able to pay for quality employees to stay local when they could easily make more money commuting to DC.
Closing statements from the Board included, “The county is in great financial shape. The education system is doing well thanks to the new Superintendent. But we request that before you go griping about problems, please contact us. We don’t know what the residents want or take issue with if they never contact us. Please, do not hesitate to contact us, no matter if it’s a positive or negative thing that needs to be addressed.”
The Sherriff’s Office will release an informational video soon about Cox’s first eight months in office, and the Chamber of Commerce has monthly meetings should anyone want more information.
Are there any issues that you feel should be addressed by the Calvert County Board of Commissioners? Leave your comments below!
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