The writer is on the city’s zoning and planning commission, but is not writing on behalf of the commission. He is writing as citizen a resident of the town. The below is an open letter Cecil County and Chesapeake City. Many of you reading this received the bulk of your early education in a public school not much different from the soon-to-be replaced elementary school in Chesapeake City. And while that property will soon stop serving as a school, it still has much to teach us about civics and the need for citizen involvement. The current elementary school will be supplanted next school session by the new almost-finished building at the junior/senior high school complex just south of town along Augustine Hermann Highway. This raises the question of what the Cecil County School Board will do with the multi-acre property and the many thousand square feet of building space. Civic leaders in the town seem to back a plan to acquire the property and to work with a non-profit group, HomePartnerships, Inc., to develop it into a multi-use complex with a mix of non-profit, government service, residential and possibly commercial or professional office uses. This plan would ostensibly honor the historic nature of the school building by retaining one or more exterior walls as a facade for the new construction to be done. But some town residents see the real facade being the idea that the current plan is a benefit to the charming and historic canal-side town, and that the residents’ opinions can play a role in steering the direction of any future development. Two consensus-building public meetings (called “charettes”) have been held, and a survey was posted on the town’s website to solicit citizen input. But some of the very small percentage of residents who saw and took part in the survey noted that questions were phrased in such a way that certain functions and usages could not be separated from others. And even though some usages like recreational trails were mentioned in the first “charette” and in the survey, they did not appear in a conceptual drawing of the site presented at the second “charette.” Town residents are now being told that at least one more “charette” is planned and perhaps another survey will be posted to again ask for citizen input. A more robust citizen response is crucial to ensure that whatever happens with this property in the heart of our charming and picturesque village is a benefit and not a hindrance to its tourism-driven economy. Too often we citizens learn that developments have been planned long before our opinions on them have been sought (hello Southfields), and even when they have been given they often fail to find their way into the actual result of the work. There is still time for Chesapeake City and Cecil County residents to make their views known about what should happen to what is soon to be available real estate. The property may stop being a school, but that does not mean it cannot still teach us lessons about the need for and benefit of citizen involvement in local affairs. George Still, Chesapeake City The writer is on the city’s zoning and planning commission, but is not writing on behalf of the commission. He is writing as citizen a resident of the town.

The writer is on the city’s zoning and planning commission, but is not writing on behalf of the commission. He is writing as citizen a resident of the town.

The below is an open letter Cecil County and Chesapeake City.

Many of you reading this received the bulk of your early education in a public school not much different from the soon-to-be replaced elementary school in Chesapeake City. And while that property will soon stop serving as a school, it still has much to teach us about civics and the need for citizen involvement.

The current elementary school will be supplanted next school session by the new almost-finished building at the junior/senior high school complex just south of town along Augustine Hermann Highway. This raises the question of what the Cecil County School Board will do with the multi-acre property and the many thousand square feet of building space.

Civic leaders in the town seem to back a plan to acquire the property and to work with a non-profit group, HomePartnerships, Inc., to develop it into a multi-use complex with a mix of non-profit, government service, residential and possibly commercial or professional office uses. This plan would ostensibly honor the historic nature of the school building by retaining one or more exterior walls as a facade for the new construction to be done.

But some town residents see the real facade being the idea that the current plan is a benefit to the charming and historic canal-side town, and that the residents’ opinions can play a role in steering the direction of any future development.

Two consensus-building public meetings (called “charettes”) have been held, and a survey was posted on the town’s website to solicit citizen input. But some of the very small percentage of residents who saw and took part in the survey noted that questions were phrased in such a way that certain functions and usages could not be separated from others. And even though some usages like recreational trails were mentioned in the first “charette” and in the survey, they did not appear in a conceptual drawing of the site presented at the second “charette.”

Town residents are now being told that at least one more “charette” is planned and perhaps another survey will be posted to again ask for citizen input. A more robust citizen response is crucial to ensure that whatever happens with this property in the heart of our charming and picturesque village is a benefit and not a hindrance to its tourism-driven economy.

Too often we citizens learn that developments have been planned long before our opinions on them have been sought (hello Southfields), and even when they have been given they often fail to find their way into the actual result of the work. There is still time for Chesapeake City and Cecil County residents to make their views known about what should happen to what is soon to be available real estate.

The property may stop being a school, but that does not mean it cannot still teach us lessons about the need for and benefit of citizen involvement in local affairs.

George Still, Chesapeake City

The writer is on the city’s zoning and planning commission, but is not writing on behalf of the commission. He is writing as citizen a resident of the town.

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