East New Market mayor vents about train depot renovation delays

EAST NEW MARKET — At the Aug. 11 commission meeting East New Market Mayor Caroline Cline reported on another in a series of delays regarding renovating the railroad train depot/station that sits forlornly on a grassy plot near Buckland Parkway in The Crossings.

About nine years ago East New Market paid the state $1 for an 1869-70 train depot with the understanding that the State Highway Administration (SHA) would contribute $40,000 to rehabilitate and move the building to its current location.

The depot was moved from Rte. 14 near Richardson Road into the town limits. When the time came to begin the restoration the $40,000 had disappeared into what Mayor Cline called “Presumably one of those black holes.” When money was located, the MD Historical Trust (MHT) told the town that the survey on the easement they hold was incorrect and a re-survey was required. The town found itself in the unenviable position of dealing with three agencies and a history of contradictory information. The three agencies are: SHA, MHT, and the Maryland Heritage Area Authority.

Mayor Cline said at the March commission meeting, “the State Highway Administration (SHA) has come up with the funding for an architectural study of the railroad depot so it would appear that some funding has been secured.”

In April the Mayor noted “there is some forward effort” on the part of the state to proceed with the renovation of the Depot train station. Two months ago the project seemed to edge forward. Input required from the numerous agencies and delays in meeting with all parties stymied forward progress. But, in June there was renewed hope. A meeting was scheduled for June 22 with everyone but MHT representative Anne Bruder who it was anticipated would send an alternate. On June 19 the meeting was canceled. SHA pledged to re-schedule.

As of Aug. 11, the meeting was not re-scheduled. Mayor Cline noted, “We are still waiting to hear back from the state for a rescheduling of the meeting that was canceled on the cusp of the stated time. We have no notion of when that will be because it is not in our hands. We were told ‘soon.’ After 9 years of waiting to say that is frustrating would be like calling Niagara Falls ‘cute.’”

A bit of “good news” involved the much anticipated Friendship Park Walking Trail. The town got approval to proceed, albeit for the second time. Approval was previously given, then rescinded; a second review followed and approval was given again. The commission had selected a contractor but because the first review was followed by a second review the town has to re-bid the project.

The commission discussed the possibility of using off-duty law enforcement officers to patrol the town for speeding and security issues. Town Clerk Patty Kiss reported that she spoke to Sheriff James Phillips about possibilities, including: Using off-duty officers for the task; and /or an electronic speed check sign. Vice mayor David Tolley agreed to act as the contact person with law enforcement officers who live in East New Market.

Mr. Tolley spoke with SHA engineer Donnie Drewer’s office about speeding in East New Market and asked if speed cameras could be used in the corporate limits. The response was “no” because the Maryland law, passed in 2009, limits their use to highway work zones and around educational institutions. Commissioner Tolley was told that SHA “cannot set up speed cameras nor can anybody else in Maryland if it is not next to a school or an educational institution and then a survey would have to be done before they put the camera up to see if it is warranted.”

The next commission meeting is slated for Sept. 8, 7 pm. Maryland state delegate for district 37-B Chris Adams is scheduled to attend.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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