by James Rada, Jr.
Program Open Space Projects Decided
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners decided on a selection of projects to request Program Open Space money to fund. The total is estimated to be $479,500. It is unlikely that all of the projects will be funded this year, so they also needed to be prioritized.
The projects are:
Hunting Creek pedestrian bridge completion – $75,000.
New parking area for 89 spaces at Eyler Road Park – $250,000.
Expanding the East End Dog Park – $7,500.
Mountain Gate Trail from Weis to the Thurmont Library – $47,000 for materials only.
Two pickleball courts at East End Park – $100,000.
Town Oil Recycling To End
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to remove the oil recycling center that was located near the Thurmont Library. The site was badly used by people bringing oil or transmission fluid for recycling. In many instances, this resulted in oil being spilled on the ground and contaminating it. Tracy’s Automotive and Advance Auto will continue to take oil for recycling in town.
Property for Flood Mitigation Purchased
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved up to $80,000 for the purchase of .91 acres. The property is the last parcel that was needed so that work can begin on the Emmitsburg Road flood mitigation project. Once completed, it should alleviate the flooding problems along U.S. 15 to Emmitsburg Road and down to Woodside Avenue.
Social Media Policy Approved
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a general social media policy for town social media accounts. The policy has two options. An account can be simply for dissemination of information and does not have to allow for the comments.
However, if the account does allow comments, it needs to be monitored so as not to allow for inappropriate comments, while at the same time not infringing on a person’s first amendment rights.
Thurmont Boulevard Postponed
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners have postponed development of Thurmont Boulevard for the foreseeable future due to the need to use funds to eliminate the trace amounts of “forever chemicals” found in the town’s water supply. They also hope that when they return to the project, they will have some better options for funding it.
Sewer and Water Rate Increases Coming
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted in April to start increasing sewer and water rates in town to bring the rates up to the point where the systems are sustainable. The discussion has been going on since last October.
“We can’t kick it down the road anymore,” Commissioner Frank Davis said.
During the public hearing, five residents spoke out against the increases, urging the town commissioners to find income from other sources or a different way to phase in the increases. The commissioners pointed out that they have reviewed a variety of plans, but they are all going to be painful. Also, for the town to be eligible for federal and state loans, they have to show they have a plan in place to be self-sustaining. In essence, to show they can repay a loan, they have to show they have enacted changes that would mean the town probably wouldn’t need to loan.
The commissioners voted:
Increase sewer rates 3 percent a year.
Increase water rates 36 percent a year for 5 years and then 3 percent a year, thereafter.
“Do I like it?” Commissioner Amy Boehman-Pollitt said. “No, I don’t. Do I want water? Yes, I do.”
Water rates haven’t increased since 2013, and sewer rates haven’t increased since 2006.
Sheriff’s Contract Approved
The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to maintain community deputies in the town. The contract for FY2024 was 5.1 percent greater than the current contract.
Recently Awarded Grants
The Town of Emmitsburg was recently awarded the following grants:
Rainbow Lake Parking Lot for $44,500 to pave a 10- to 12-space parking lot at Rainbow Lake.
Community Park Pavilion Improvements for $30,500 to install a new pavilion roof, repair rotting wood, pressure wash, sand/stain, replace 10 picnic tables.
Memorial Park Pavilion Improvements for $22,000 to repair pavilion rotting wood, pressure wash, sand/stain, replace 11 picnic tables.
Baseball Field Bat/Helmet Racks for $3,000 to purchase bat/helmet racks for the remaining three ballfield dugouts (fields #5, #4 and #2).
DHCD Operating Assistance Grant – Main Street Improvement Grant for $10,000 to replace 102 streetlights along Main Street.