Southern Maryland News

Commission­ers move forward on Waldorf rec center

Look to spend more than $4M on project


The Waldorf Urban Redevelopm­ent Corridor along Old Washington Road is a priority when it comes to urbanizing Waldorf and on Tuesday, the Charles County Board of Commission­ers took another step in making it a reality.

The board approved a $4.3 million budget increase for the purpose of the design and developmen­t of a recreation center for all ages, including seniors, in the “heart of Waldorf,” County Commission­er Ken Robinson (D) said. The final vote on the facility was 3-1 with County Commission­er Debra Davis (D) the lone vote of dissent and County Commission­er Bobby Rucci (D) absent.

County Commission­ers’ Vice President Amanda Stewart (D) said the project had been discussed previously and was something she looked forward to bringing to the community.

“For the past two years this is something we’ve been discussing,” Stewart said. “Many of the county residents have asked for this. They’ve asked for another senior center that they can come to.”

Jenifer Ellin, the county’s chief of budget, said $3.8 million would go to the purchase of property and renovation of the building. The county received an $800,000 community developmen­t block grant that allowed them to increase funding for the project along with some contingenc­y funding left over in bonds and $1.3 million in debt affordabil­ity bonds.

Stewart said the facility would not be “tearing down trees” and creating a new space for its presence. Instead, she said, the county will be finding a space in Waldorf to renovate and build into a recreation center for all ages.

“We’re revitalizi­ng certain areas in our county. We’re actually showing the community how it can be done,” Stewart said.

Robinson said the county is planning on opening the facility “a little over a year from now,” should everything go as planned with the budget.

“This is a major big deal,” he said.

People across the county had been clamoring for a new facility, County Commission­ers’ President Peter Murphy (D) said, and the county is finally moving forward in the process of bringing them one.

However, County Commission­er Debra Davis (D) said she could not support the facility because of the process of its approval. The budget approval item had not been presented to the public, she said, and the commission­ers would be approving moving forward with taxpayer dollars to fund a facility that has not been discussed with the public.

“We are making this proposal, it’s for a $4 million transfer. And this is the first time we even publicly began to talk about it,” Davis said.

The commission­ers had been in discussion­s about a senior center with the Department of Community Services previously, but the center proposed on Tuesday encompasse­s all ages.

Murphy said seniors, specifical­ly, had been asking for a place to socialize outside of the Waldorf Jaycees.

“We felt it was certainly worth, the very least we could do was give them a center to go socialize. I believe that’s what that part of this is all about,” he said.

The proposal had been in the works for “some time,” Murphy said, and was something the commission­ers had discussed previously. Davis requested that the commission­ers, before approving the budget item for fiscal year 2018, hold a public hearing on the facility to let the public know the “ins and outs” of it.

“If its so great and so needed I want them to know what it’s going to cost,” she said.

Murphy said the commission­ers would be fine with doing that. The county commission­ers start their fiscal year 2018 budget process on April 25, Ellin said.

“That’s fair and fine,” Murphy said.

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