FNP: citizen questions city permitting the Tough Mudder, and links bad planning to votes of current elected officials

 Put blame in the right place

(Frederick News Post, Sept 23, 2012)

The traffic snarl and resident complaints regarding the Tough Mudder race held at Crumland Farms last weekend are not the story of an organizer who misled anyone. It is the story of incompetency among Frederick city and Frederick County officials. On Sept. 5, an article inThe Frederick News-Post quoted Tough Mudder media representative Ashley Fallick as stating the event is expected to attract approximately 27,000 people. In that same article, Frederick city Economic Development Director Richard Griffin remarked, “Having 27,000 folks here for the Tough Mudder Race this weekend is sure to increase hotel room nights and sales at restaurants and other retail establishments.” He goes on to say, “Additionally, it highlights Frederick to folks from other places as a great place to live, invest and do business.”

Were these individuals misquoted? I doubt it. Regardless, Mayor Randy McClement and Police Chief Kim Dine claim they were caught off-guard and the debacle was a result of poor planning on the part of Tough Mudder LLC. When an organization from outside of Frederick applies for a permit and the city grants it, should they not assume the officials would understand the implications of said permit? Are McClement and Dine unaware of the issues we face on U.S. 15 every day? Were they shocked that 27,000 people going to a parking area off Willow Road could pose a problem? Should it have been their responsibility to recognize the possible problems more than an out-of-town organization that is bringing its business to Frederick? And why is the local government being so difficult about revealing the details of the permit to the public? It is laughable that Alderwoman Karen Young, an elected city leader, was, by her own admission, not even aware that two major events were scheduled for Frederick on the same weekend. What about County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who seemed to sense there might be work involved? He made sure to keep the mud off his hands.

But this was only one event on one weekend that went wrong. What is more frightening is that several of these individuals are behind the annexation of several farms in the area, including the race venue, Crum Farm, so that the lands can be developed heavily. These are the people that claim issues regarding school crowding, congested local roads and highways, and public safety will be addressed satisfactorily once thousands more housing units are added to the area.

How many portables are already on our public school grounds? How often is traffic congested on 15 and other main roads in the area? How well-staffed are our police forces and other emergency response organizations? Last weekend, Frederick city’s leadership proved they were incapable of ensuring a decent quality of life for residents of the city and county. Sadly, I am glad this weekend’s events wreaked so much havoc on Frederick. Consider it training. It is the kind of discomfort we will need to get used to in the coming years. As Commissioners President Blaine Young stated in the Sept. 7 edition of The Frederick News-Post, the annexation and further development of local Frederick farms “supports the best aspects of Smart Growth,” the urban development plan initiated in Maryland under Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening in the ’90s. That is a rather ambiguous remark, for it overlooks the worst aspects of the Smart Growth initiative. A week ago Saturday was just a taste of what is to come in the all-too-near future of Frederick, and I fail to see anything smart about it — or the elected officials behind it.

DONNIE CORNELL

writes from Frederick.