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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(9/2013) Does anyone have tomato and zucchini recipes to share? How about cucumber salad??? While September brings school and the breath of Fall, it also happily provides a flood of garden vegetables! I have fond memories of enjoying fresh vegetables and fruit when they were a seasonal treat instead of available every day on the grocery store shelf. The annual delivery of oranges and grapefruit from my grandparents in Florida was always a treat. Oh well, enough reminiscing…

Town Election Day is Tuesday, October 1. This is "the Tuesday before the first Monday in October." As of this writing, only one candidate, Pat Joy, has registered – but registration goes through at least August 30. The current incumbents are Commissioners Pat Joy and Jim Hoover.

There are no new updates on the town square re-design project. At the August 19 Board Meeting, Mayor Don Briggs outlined his plans for spending an additional $10,000 to have our design consultant continue to lobby the State Highway Administration (SHA) to allow proposed traffic changes at the square. SHA continues to resist the proposal to move back the crosswalks – a concept meant to provide more open space and safer pedestrian crossing points. This design element is a key to improving the look and function of the Town Square. Giving it up removes the "spatial" improvement and reduces the project to a new coat of paint.

Although dated June on the cover, the Final Report from the design consultant was also presented at the August Board Meeting. It is a polished piece of marketing that sheds (only) positive light on the project. When allocating the additional $10,000 in June, the Board requested, and the Mayor agreed to provide, a funding plan in September. Although the Final Report presents a clear table of detailed estimates, the Mayor now seems to believe that construction drawings must be paid for before we can begin to talk about how we might pay for this project.

The Mayor continues to confuse a desire to complete the project with a willingness to pay ANY price. We need to have a public discussion of how we might meet the cost estimates. Right now, that is not forthcoming from the Mayor. Aren’t the estimates in the Consultant’s Final Report (produced at a cost of $50,000) a valid starting point? When the Mayor’s chosen time does come – after we have spent an additional $60,000 on construction drawing preparation??? – I hope the argument is not, "We’ve already spent $120,000. It’s too late to turn back now!" In other words, the hook is in too deep…

In fact, the best thing to do would be to have a ballot question on October 1 asking the voters if they are ‘willing to spend up to $800,000 in construction costs’ - a majority voting ‘YES’ would surely help to clarify the discussion. The Mayor and the Board could then begin to work on how to structure the details with a firmer conviction about popular support beyond the small cadre continually summoned to town meetings. Wasn’t it just two short years ago after all that we reduced the number of Town Deputies from three to two due to budgetary concerns???

The standards for spending close to a million dollars (in total) as a public /private partnership should be more stringent and more open than a private business venture. Otherwise it’s guaranteed to turn into a circus… And even in private industry, I’ve never seen a project this big proceed without even a preliminary budget in place(!)

As always, please keep an eye out for opportunities to contribute and don’t hesitate to share your opinions with your elected officials by sending an e-mail to

Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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