Two individuals who had been part of the staff at the Fairview Visitors Center in Owings spoke during the public comment segment of the Calvert County Commissioners’ Tuesday, July 8 meeting.
During the commissioners’ June 17 meeting the board voted 4-to-1 to eliminate staffing at the center, which is located in the same building as the Fairview Branch of Calvert Library. The action was taken when two contract proposals for the operation of visitors’ centers at Fairview and in Solomons exceeded the amount the county had budgeted in fiscal year (FY) 2015. The contract was awarded to the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce with only staffing at the Solomons location surviving the board’s action.
The commissioners intend to look at the continuation of the visitors’ centers’ operation. Data presented last month to the commissioners indicated utilization of the centers has steadily declined while the costs of operation have risen.
Fairview’s transition to an unstaffed center took effect July 1.
“You might as well close the tourist attractions,” said Eleanor Ward, who called the Fairview staff “experts” in directing those visiting Calvert to the various points of interest.
Ward said if the closure is a matter of budget constraints, “why not cut back on hours of operation, at least weekends and holidays?”
Ward reminded the commissioners “tourism is 10 percent of Maryland’s industry.”
“We get visitors who are just lost,” said Diana Worth. “Fairview is the front door to the county.”
Worth also noted that when the library closes the building is also closed and then visitors are unable to pick up the tourist information brochures.
In a memo