The day began at Winchester Hall in the hearing room. “Where the magic happens” is how Rick Weldon describe the space. Where many passionate, enthusiastic conversations and debates are held in a public forum that influence the direction and policy of Frederick County.
Jim Gugel, Planning Director for Frederick County, along with Joe Adkins, Deputy Director of Planning for Frederick City, set the ground work for the day. They explained how planners make challenging decisions regarding future growth for the Frederick community, while attempting to satisfy politicians and citizens. Monrovia Town center is evidence that it’s not an easy task. In the next 20 years Frederick expects the county population to grow by 60,000 and housing by 23,000, while the City of Frederick expects to grow by 20,000. Sounds like a challenging job!
Richard Griffin, Director of Economic Development with The City of Frederick, was next up to give us the scoop on their role in the future of Frederick from a business development standpoint. Fort Detrick is the largest employer in Frederick County, but 95% of the business in Frederick are small businesses, with less than 50 employees. We learned about some of the new projects coming in the next few years from the Jefferson Technology Park to the new Walmart Supercenter to the Downtown Frederick Hotel Project.
Monocacy Valley Cannery
After a couple hours in the center of town, we took a short walk to the Eastside – to the old Monocacy Valley Cannery, currently being redeveloped by Bert Anderson. Bert Anderson, known for his Shab Row and Everedy Sqaure developments, is creating office space at the Cannery to attract more businesses and opportunity to Frederick. The space is nearing completion, revitalizing a historic 19th century commercial canning operation to a modern meets historic office space. It has even attracted an international pharmaceutical company to Frederick; Chiesi has locations in Italy, Paris, London, and soon to Frederick, MD. That’s kinda cool!
Riverside Industrial Park
Riverside Industrial Park is home to The Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF) which is the anchor facility of the National Cancer Institute. (A lot of smart people work there!) The ATRF is designed to breed collaboration among partners and advance technologies that translate research discoveries into treatments for cancer and AIDS. Walter Hubert, Assistant Project Officer at NCI, hosted us and gave us a great tour. We walked away with a biology lesson and an understanding of the far reaching impact of technologies and discoveries taking place right here in Frederick County.
We wrapped up the day with an exercise, where in small groups we were asked to be the planners for the city. Our task was to develop a city plan for growth that would accommodate needs for the next 20 years. Five groups developed five completely different plans. If nothing else, it was 30 minutes of recognizing the challenges city/county planners face on a day to day basis, and we didn’t even have restrictions or elected officials to deal with!
At the end of the day, Frederick is a vibrant place to live and work. Based on the sampling of our day, the next 20 years are ripe with opportunity for the Frederick community.