Frustration over ENM railroad depot renovation continues

EAST NEW MARKET — The usual update on the status of the town’s railroad depot renovation was concise at the Oct. 11 East New Market commission meeting. Mayor Caroline Cline said tersely, “There is no update. Not a word.” And, she moved on to other business.

According to collinsfactor.com, the little East New Market Depot was likely built in 1869 or 1870 when the Dorchester and Delaware Railroad began operations between Cambridge and the Delaware state line. An historic town itself, East New Market was eager to preserve the little train depot and purchased it about 10 years ago from the state for $1. It was moved from Rt. 14 near Richardson Road to its present location near The Crossings development based on a promise from the State Highway Administration (SHA) for rehabilitation grant funds.

However, when the time came for rehabilitation, the money was nowhere to be found. Over the years the money was located, but the town found itself in the unenviable position of dealing with three agencies and a history of contradictory information. The three agencies are: SHA, MD Historical Trust (MHT), and the MD Heritage Area Authority. By March, 2016, funds were located for an architectural study of the depot.

In April Mayor Cline and Commissioner Cindy Merrick attended a meeting with an MHT representative that was, according to Ms. Cline, “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.

By June the Mayor said she received an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) from the State Highway Administration (SHA) regarding financing for renovation of the train depot. Presumably all was going forward.

As of July 8 SHA officials advised the MHT that “we are willing to enter into an agreement with the town regarding the needed repairs for the East New Market railroad depot in the amount of $50,000. I know that you all have received the agreement and it is under review.” The final agreement was expected to be finalized by all agencies by the middle of September. As of Oct. 11, nothing.

Cleaner ditches . . .

For a few years the issue of clearing the ditches adjacent to the Creamery Road section of town has been front and center at commission meetings. Although some “ditching” was done by the county last year the problem has recurred. Raised at every meeting in the past year by resident Gary Blackstock, the issue was not resolved despite efforts by town officials and County Councilman Rick Price to get the job done.

Commissioner and Vice Mayor David Tolley mentioned that some parts of the ditches are lower than the discharge pipe designed to remove runoff. Mr. Blackstock noted he was “appalled” since Councilman Price said at last month’s meeting that Public Works Director Tom Moore told him it would be done within “two weeks.” Mr. Blackstock said, “Nothing’s been done. All the ditches are filled with bushes and debris. Every time we get a hard rain I don’t know if I’m getting flooded out or not.” He suggested a town official should call Mr. Moore again.

Mayor Cline noted that she was “hopeful that there would be some follow-up” last year by the county. “Why should we have to keep pleading for something that’s so obvious? These people are taxpayers. Gary, you might be a really good person to do this (make the call) because you’re one of the people who will be impacted by this.

The Banner has since learned that public works trucks were dispatched to the Creamery Road area by Oct. 14 and “ditching” was done.

No Parking & Christmas . . .

The commission passed a No Parking ordinance to prohibit overnight parking on any streets in the town. Signs denoting additional parking restrictions will be installed.

Christmas is coming to East New Market and arrangements for the 2nd annual tree lighting ceremony were updated by Commissioner Mary Dennard Turner. The event is scheduled for Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. with a rain date of Dec. 19. Last year was the “first ever reported tree lighting ceremony in north Dorchester County,” according to Mayor Cline.

“This year,” Commissioner Turner said, “I’m going to have a real committee.” The Mayor and each commissioner stepped up to the plate to help her. The commissioner also announced she has been nominated by the Denton Fireflies as one of the “100 Elegant Women Celebration” slated for 4 p.m. Oct. 22 at Sailwinds in Governor’s Hall.

Vice Mayor Tolley concluded the meeting with a heartfelt “thank you” to the MD State Police for patrolling the town and cited a noticeable difference in speeding. “You can tell when they’re in town because everybody slows down. It’s quite visible.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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