County Council approves Hearn Building funds

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CAMBRIDGE — The most pressing issue on a 12 item agenda was approval of the grant acceptance for the Maryland Community Legacy grant award for the stabilization of the Hearn Building, topping the local news since late October after suffering a collapse of the south wall of the building. In a unanimous vote the County Council accepted the grant, opening the way for a fast track towards stabilizing the crumbling structure, and re-opening Race Street to through traffic.

The grant acceptance question was last on the agenda, and in the public comments section of the meeting following a few local residents asked why the building was not being torn down. Council President Ricky Travers explained that grant money was available for stabilization (to permit restoration), and that no money was available for demolition. He stated that shoring up and stabilization of the property was necessary in order to find a buyer for the property, and that “there is a possibility of this building being sold after it is stabilized and in good condition.”

Questions arose as to whether it was a city effort or a county effort to get the grant money necessary for the Hearn Building stabilization.

“To get this kind of money this quickly took a Herculean effort,” said County Manager Jeremy Goldman. “We used three people from the county and two people from the city. They all worked together and we were able to get the (grant applications) done in less than two weeks, and submitted. We had to press some pretty heavy political buttons to get this noticed, and get it funded. It was not one entity, it was the effort of a team.”

In other county business, the Council approved the agriculture tire amnesty program date of Jan. 25 to Feb. 6; fielded a request for a county representative appointment for the Delmarva Water Transport Committee, wherein Councilman Satterfield volunteered for the position; and tended to Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board nominations.
A T-hangar sublease request for the airport was approved, along with two requests from Tourism — one a travel request, and one a request for the County Council President’s signature on general correspondence to the Ironman Events promoters.

A FY16 Community Partnership Agreement for the Governor’s Office for Children was approved. Also, a request to host grand opening for the Eastern Shore Innovation Center was submitted and approved for the Economic Development Department — the tentative date for that grand opening is March 4.

A request to Advertise for Proposals for the new ADA Ramps necessary for the County Office Building was approved, as was a replacement vehicle request submitted by the Sheriff’s Office.

Finally, the Senate Bill 57 Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2016 was approved, under the category of “it’s mandated by the state, we have no choice but to accept it.”
The Act met with universal disagreement by the Council for the burden it puts on small business owners to both charge customers for bags and also give credit for customer’s bags used, while reporting all this to the state properly. Council President Travers, a store owner, was particularly heated in his opinion of this bill, but again, it’s one of the many that we have no real choice about.

The next County Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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