Stop, think and leave Sailwinds alone!

Open letter to Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley and members of the Cambridge City Council

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been watching, reading and talking to people involved in the issue of the proposed Sailwinds Development Project and I must admit I am at a loss here. Having been a former member of the Sailwinds Management Board myself I remember seeing Mayor Stanley as well as Councilman Thomas being active proponents of Sailwinds and everything that it brought to the community. This is why the current discussion being led by you relating to the closure of this venue and replacing it with empty storefronts, a hotel and more condo’s that won’t sell just doesn’t make any sense to me.

Sailwinds Park and Governors Hall are the one thing that sets this community apart from all of the others on the Delmarva. It is the ONLY venue of its kind on Delmarva that has both indoor and outdoor event space, is consistently profitable without subsidization and its waterfront location boasts some of the most picturesque views in the area. Just about any event that you can ever want to organize can be held at Sailwinds Park. With the current Mayor’s focus on attracting tourism and, most importantly, tourism dollars, it would seem that the major focus of the Mayor’s office be placed on keeping Sailwinds Park and Governor’s Hall thriving and making the necessary investments into the property to insure its continued success.

However this is not the case. Currently you are entangling a rather hefty web of secrecy, double-talk and manipulation in order to close Sailwinds and build something that is not needed in the community and, based on the opinions of everyone that I have talked to, simply not wanted. Cambridge currently has a number of empty storefronts downtown and the number of empty storefronts on US Rt. 50 is staggering. We have a brand new colossal waste of money that is the “Technology Park” that is full of everything except businesses. And, to top it all off, Cambridge can lay claim to being the only community in the United States to have a gated, waterfront community complete with Section 8 housing.

In the worst economy since the Carter administration you want to destroy a venue/business that is not only profitable but also brings a great number of people into this area that might not otherwise visit. In fact an event held at Governor’s Hall in the spring of this year attracted vendors from all over the country and well over 600 attendees, 80 percent of which were not from this area! The organizers of the event were not from Cambridge but they made sure that a list of local hotels, restaurants and businesses was available and handed out to all vendors and attendees. Can you see why I’m at a loss here? No offense but it seems like you are living in a bit of a logic vacuum.

All of that aside what really bothers me is the secrecy surrounding all of this. Two sitting council members have stated that they have no idea what is going on with this project as they are being kept out of the proverbial loop. Why is that? I understand that certain things involving contract negotiations cannot be disclosed until all the ink is dry and the documents have been signed but when such a public project as this is cloaked in heavy layers of silence my trick knee tells me that there is something potentially unethical going on here. If you have nothing to hide and everything is above board then you should have no problem with full public disclosure. Period. My gut feeling, however, is that what is being done here is anything but ethical and it makes me wonder if what is transpiring is really for the benefit of the community or the benefit of those elected to serve the community.

Either way you look at it the community at large, be it the residents or businesses, will be the ones to suffer should Sailwinds Park be closed. Events at Sailwinds draw people from all over the Delmarva area, the Western Shore and beyond to Cambridge and does so on a year round basis. It would be sad to see all of that go away. I challenge you to take a step back for a moment and examine the real reason why you would even consider closing down this venue. If you feel that your reasons are really and truly for the benefit of the community then you should continue on your current path. But if your reasoning for closing Sailwinds is personal in any way then I suggest you stop what you are doing and invest in the future of Sailwinds. An investment in Sailwinds Park and Governor’s Hall is an investment in the future of this community!
Sincerely,

Chris Abbott

Cambridge

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