ENM Mayor and Council to be honored again for conservation efforts

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EAST NEW MARKET — At the Oct. 13 commission meeting East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline announced that she and the town will again be honored for supporting environmental concerns via the Friendship Park project. On Nov. 12 at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, the mayor will receive a “String of Pearls” award to honor those who “preserve land forever in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

When the eight-acre Friendship Park property was in danger of urban development, the town sprang into action and purchased the land with grants from the Dorchester Heart of the Chesapeake Heritage Authority. It is now held in permanent protection by the Maryland Environmental Trust’s first urban conservation easement and co-held with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

A longstanding concern for residents in the Creamery Road area is overgrown ditches that threaten to inundate nearby homes when it rains. Where the responsibility lies is the issue that has created a difference of opinion that is stalling the clean-up. The town has neither the equipment nor budgeted money to do the job and the county, which cleaned part of the ditch last year, does not have the project high on its priority list. County Councilman Rick Price agreed to facilitate a meeting between town officials and the county’s Director Of Public Works, Tom Moore, in an effort to resolve the problem.

The walking trail slated for Friendship Park is inching along. After some fits and starts a second round of bids is coming in. Mayor Cline said with the first round of bids received at the beginning of the project “we were confident having explored every word and every period and every comma and capital letter, that we could choose the responsible bidder among the four bids that came to us.” However, she has since learned from a state level employee that the town must choose the lowest bidder. The town has asked for an extension of the grant funding the trail to accommodate for the numerous delays in getting the project underway.

A meeting with Ann Bruder from the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) to discuss the train station renovation was described as “very positive” by the mayor. Commissioner Cindy Merrick, who attended the meeting, said “it’s the first time in approximately seven years that I have felt something positive about the railroad station.” Mayor Cline agreed, noting that “it’s also the first time we’ve had a firm, verbal commitment since the state sold the station to us for $1.” The next step is a survey of the property by a preservation architect who can recommend a contractor approved by the MHT.

The State Highway Administration (SHA) has agreed to transfer ownership of state owned property at the intersection of Rtes. 14 and 16 to the town. SHA has not been able to maintain the property and the responsibility for maintenance will be assumed by the town. SHA engineer Donnie Drewer told Mayor Cline that the town may use the property until the transfer is completed.

Councilman Price reported that he had conferred with Mr. Drewer about the dangers at the intersection of Rtes. 392 and 14. He raised the issue at the annual county council meeting with MD Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials and spoke with State Senator Addie Eckardt. The hazardous intersection is not properly marked with advance notice. There have been serious accidents and some fatalities but at this point SHA studies do not warrant a light.

Councilman Price said Mr. Drewer promised he would call Mr. Price to arrange a site visit for a first-hand look at the problem.
Newly hired town zoning and code enforcement officer Nancy Jackson reported that she has sent notices of violation and will send citations if the violations are not corrected in a reasonable amount of time.

Ms. Jackson comes to her East New Market post with over 20 years of experience in property management and inspections to keep her properties up to the standards required to qualify for assorted funding sources. She has managed a variety of properties including senior and multi-family units. Ms. Jackson last served as a contractual employee in Annapolis for liquor and property maintenance inspections.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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