Perryville Mayor Eberhardt uncontested for final term
— This is the last town election for James “Jim” Eberhardt.
“I think two years from now, I’ll be done,” said Eberhardt, who is running uncontested for the fourth time. Barring any write-in victory during the elections on May 10, this will be Eberhardt’s seventh term.
Eberhardt shared some theories as to why he has no competition.
“Depending on who you talk to, it’s because he’s doing a great job or nobody wants the job,” Eberhardt said.
However, Eberhardt said in two years be will be 73, and he plans to be fully retired by then. Although he is retired from the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, he has been a contract professional with Grad School USA for a number of years, teaching those on track for upper-level degrees in their field.
According to Eberhardt, he and the board in its various iterations have presented strong budgets over the years. Perryville recently passed its fiscal year 2017 budget, giving residents a sixth straight property tax rate reduction.
“The town is in good shape,” he said.
Part of that good shape comes from the town’s share of the profits from Hollywood Casino.
“That was no ‘gimme.’ We had to fight for everything we got,” Eberhardt said, referring to Perryville’s 35 percent cut. “The state said (all the money) goes to Cecil County, that the county is the local government. They had no idea it was within a corporate limit.”
The biggest hurdle to the town’s future economic growth is the state’s refusal to widen Route 222 over Interstate 95. Maryland officials insist Perryville and Cecil County chip into the plans, while on this side of the Susquehanna River, Eberhardt points to massive transportation projects in Aberdeen and Bel Air that fell fully under the responsibility of the state.
“The county has had that as its No. 1 priority on its list to the State Highway Administration for years and yet nothing happens,” Eberhardt said. A wider Route 222 would clear the way for the next development phase near the casino, including a hotel and conference center.
The mayor had hoped to have construction under way for the new police station by now.
“We got stymied by stormwater management,” he said. He said the best news is that the solution applies also to the next phase of that project, which will be a modern town hall. Bids for the police station are due to be opened soon.
“If I get the police station done in the next two years I’ll be happy,” he said.
Also before his departure, Eberhardt would like to get some of the vacant storefronts filled, especially in Perryville Station.
“I also want to see progress in those three housing developments,” he said, pointing to Woodlands, Happy Valley and Cedar Corner.
Cedar Corner will be first, he said.
“This guy wants to build very nice single family houses,” the mayor said. “It’s the first time in 10 years anyone has proposed single family housing.”
One project that remains quiet is the proposed MARC maintenance facility to be built of Route 7 at the edge of town limits but connect to town water and sewer. Eberhardt said he has heard nothing on the progress of the project.
“Amtrak did a tremendous amount of work for drainage, but it’s a completely different project,” the mayor said he was told. “At the legislative breakfast, Senator Steve Hershey said last time he was in a meeting on the facility he said he won’t support the project unless they extend MARC to Elkton.”