Editor’s Note: This is part two of a story that began in last Friday’s edition of the Cecil Whig.
ELKTON — Following last week’s Elkton Mayor and Commissioners meeting, the consensus was that the town needs to appoint two additional members to the Elkton Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners to allow the board to be able to take actions relating to proposed developments at Rudy Park. Commissioners also discussed the long-term viability of the authority and whether the town should turn the housing authority over to the county.
Currently, the authority’s board only has three members, and according to David Holden of The Ingerman Group, which is working with the housing authority and the town to renovate Rudy Park, the lack of members is keeping the board from functioning as it should be.
Holden said that there is $20 million in financing for the Rudy Park project, but there have been a couple of snags in the project. He said that the plan is for the project to be completed in two phases and added that the project must be completed by the end of 2022, which means the time is of the essence to be able to do the things necessary to move the project forward in order to have it completed within that timeframe. Holden noted that the lack of a fully functioning board is one of the things holding up the project.
According to LuCinda Herrera with the EHA, the housing authority was created under the town’s authority, and as such is the town’s responsibility to appoint board members. She said the board is supposed to have five members to be able to properly function.
During the discussion at last Wednesday’s Mayor and Commissioners meeting, Herrera also discussed with town officials issues relating to the housing authority’s financial viability in the future. Herrera said that when the Rudy Park transaction with Ingerman closes, the housing authority will no longer receive funding for that property. Originally the authority received funding for The Willows at Windsor, Birchwood at Main and Rudy Park, but now only receives funding for Rudy Park as the other two projects have already been turned over to Ingerman for management purposes.
Herrera said the authority’s funding will consist solely of housing choice vouchers following the transfer of Rudy Park, which she noted is a very minimal amount that would not support the expenses of the housing authority.
She said that the town may want to enter into an agreement with Cecil County to manage the housing authority once that happens as the county currently has its own voucher program.
Elkton Mayor Rob Alt said he, “never figured out what we have done with the housing authority other than appoint board members.”
At one point during the meeting, Alt asked what would happen if the town simply eliminated the housing authority. Herrera noted that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development would then make a decision on who would manage the housing choice vouchers.
Commissioner Jean Broomell suggested that the town might want to continue with the housing authority and use it in the future as a tool for potential redevelopment at Hollingsworth Manor.
After additional discussion, Alt asked Town Administrator Lewis George to come back to the town with recommendations. Alt said he was in favor of turning the housing authority over to the county, noting he had never been a big fan of the town being responsible for the authority.
Ultimately it was decided that George would come up with potential appointees for the two empty EHA board seats and present those names to the mayor and commissioners for approval as a short term fix to the issues brought up by Holden.