Chamber hears waterfront development plans

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Members of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce learned on July 16 about the work being done by the Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc. Chamber President/CEO Bill Christopher is seen at right.

CAMBRIDGE — Members of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce heard and update on July 16 from representatives of Cambridge Waterfront Development, Inc. (CWDI). Interim Executive Director Sandra Tripp-Jones and Board Member Jeff Powell shared the group’s vision for the future of the Choptank River shore from Governor’s Hall on the Creek to the current hospital property.

Many of the goals and concepts are not new — Ms. Tripp-Jones said some went back to 1990, when the Committee of 100 first laid plans for the valuable site. “There has been a great consistency about what this project is supposed to be,” she said.

Included in the concept will be economic development, mixed use of the property, preservation of the working waterfront and deep port, and public access to the site.

Enticing developers is a central part of the CWDI’s mission. “It’s no secret that it’s difficult to attract developers to this county,” Ms. Tripp-Jones said.

She said in their talks with developers, they have been told, “The market’s not quite ready yet in Cambridge.”

One way to remedy that situation, she said, is to make the property more popular and heavily used than ever, to demonstrate its value to investors.

Mr. Powell said he see much cooperation among city, county and state officials regarding the potential development of the property. “There is a really good group of people here, who have no agendas,” he said.

He urged those in the audience not to rely on hearsay about the site, but to ask him for information, because mistakes or gossip could damage progress. “We are notorious for shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “Call me any time.”

“We’ve had some really significant developers in town,” Mr. Powell said. “They think it’s a little early. We’re trying to prime the pump.”

Chamber members learned that the CWDI is an independent, non-profit development corporation formed by, and under, the auspices of the city and county. Its goal is to oversee and implement the public/private partnership to redevelop Sailwinds and the hospital property.

The land under consideration is about 25 acres, as well as the port, the 470-foot wharf and public promenade along the Choptank River. A statement from the Maryland Opportunity Zone Information Exchange 2018 said, “CWDI and the City of Cambridge have site control of 10 acres and anticipate control of the remaining 15 acres by spring 2021.”

Members of the CWDI are: city appointee and Board President Richard Zeidman; city appointee and Vice President Daryl Butcher; Cambridge City Manager Patrick Comiskey, who serves as secretary/treasurer; Sailwinds Park, Inc. representative Frank Narr; county appointee Jeff Powell; County Manager Keith Adkins; Maryland Stadium Authority Executive Director Michael Frenz, who is the governor’s appointee; Interim Executive Director Sandra Tripp-Jones; Counsel to the Board Charles “Chip” MacLeod.

The group’s meetings are public, at 9 a.m. on the third Thursdays of the month. Agendas are posted on city and county websites.

Progress reports are given to the city council quarterly, and can be seen on townhallstreams.com. To reach Ms. Tripp-Jones, email sandra.trippjones@cwdimd.org.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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