The CAVE people have once again reared their ugly heads; this time it's concerning economic development………specifically, the Rolling Mill project in Cumberland. On Tuesday, the Mayor and City Council voted to approve a $2.5 million funding package for the project which will result in the acquisition of 68 properties within the area of I-68, Maryland Avenue, Park Street and Williams Road.
The Cumberland Economic Development Corporation has been spearheading the project and I am one of the members of this newly formed public / private entity. At the Mayor and City Council meeting, it bought back the bad memories of the creation of the Western Maryland Health System. Some of the same people who were involved with the “Kill the Merger” initiative are back with their protest signs and spewing insults.
The property owners have been offered the appraised value of their property and relocation assistance. The great majority have taken advantage of the opportunity. There are still a handful of property owners who are not interested in selling or are holding out for the best deal; only time will tell as to how they fare in the process.
What one can find interesting is that the majority of the protesters aren’t even residents of the Rolling Mill area. This area has the highest incidence of crime and drug abuse in the city and the Rolling Mill project should be embraced by all. I listened to a woman on the radio this AM with no understanding of what is happening in this community from an economic development perspective. The radio host, who was well informed, spoke of the economic boom that is taking place in LaVale; her response was “but that’s the county, not the city.” Well, madam, it is because of what’s happening throughout our region that there is now interest in the city. There is one newly opened hotel in LaVale and planning is underway for three additional hotels, one in Frostburg near FSU and two in the city (one downtown and one just off of I-68 and Baltimore Avenue). There are restaurants and retail centers that have either just opened or the planning is underway. Buffalo Wild Wings is planning to open for March Madness and both Cracker Barrel and Sheetz will open in the spring of 2016. New companies are finding their way to Cumberland and Frostburg, as well. New housing starts are being pursued as well as senior residential living. A 40,000 square foot spec building is being constructed in the Barton Business Park for future development and it too will be ready in the spring of 2016.
I have been in Cumberland 26 years and this by far is the most activity from an economic development perspective in a very long time. I am proud of the Mayor and City Council for their unanimous approval of this much needed project for the City of Cumberland. These are exciting times for an area that has been economically depressed for quite sometime.