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"Frederick County is More Than Just Frederick City"

Justin Kiska

(2/2017) So many things have happened since last monthís edition of the paper, that I wasnít quite sure what to write about in the February issue. We have a new president, the Maryland General Assembly has begun their 2017 session, and closer to home, a funny Tweet cost a Frederick County Public School employee her job. There are national issues to talk about and there are local issues to address. But one thing, for whatever reason, has been nagging at me.

When I was President of The Golden Mile Alliance, I used to say on a regular basis, "The City of Frederick is more than just downtown." Let me change that a bit and say, "Frederick County is more than just Frederick City."

Naturally, the City, being the second largest in the state and the seat of our county government, and the most populated municipality in said county, is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. But they donít always have to be. The City of Frederick has about 67,000 residents, give or take. The county, on the other hand, has a little more than 240,000. The City only makes up a fraction of our county, yet there is always the focus of so much attention.

What am I getting at?

Not too long ago, it was announced that the Department of Social Services was moving from its location in downtown Frederick to North Market Street. As soon word began to circulate that the department was looking to move further north, not even out of the City for that matter, just out of downtown, it sparked a flurry of activity from local officials to keep the agency, if not where it was, somewhere downtown.

Why?

Would it have been so bad for the Department of Social Services to be located in Walkersville? Why not Middletown? OK, I understand that those examples wouldnít work because neither of those towns had the type of building the agency would need but this isnít the first time something like this has come up.

Years ago, when the Board of Education was getting ready to relocate from its Church Street headquarters, the thought of it moving out of the City, let alone downtown, horrified people. The school system had a perfectly suitable property on Hayward Road which could have become the new seat of the countyís education system, but it wasnít downtown any longer. Instead, prime real estate was used and a brand new building rose . . . downtown.

If constructing a new building wasnít an issue, why couldnít the Board of Education look to move to Thurmont or Mount Airy? It would certainly have cost less. But no, they needed to stay in the City of Frederick.

Why?

Even the Frederick county Chamber of Commerce has decided to move back into the city. The current office, just off Monocacy Boulevard on Gas House Pike, apparently wasnít close enough. Why does the countyís Chamber of Commerce have to be located within the City limits?

Iím not saying there is anything wrong with the City of Frederick. My business has been located there, albeit on the Golden Mile, since it first opened. And yes, many things gravitate to the bigger population centers. But why canít government agencies and organizations along those line spread out across the county? "Spread the wealth," so-to-speak. Who knows? Had the Board of Ed built a new headquarters in Walkersville, it could have spurred a mini economic boom and some new development.

Itís not even the economics of it that bothers me the most. Itís the symbolism. Frederick County is more than just the City of Frederick.

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