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Capital budget aids in repair of Frederick County infrastructure

ANNAPOLIS — The General Assembly has preliminarily approved well over a million dollars of funding for local projects in Frederick County.

The House and Senate each released their list of funding priorities for local projects with the largest allocations in Frederick County targeted at damage from the 2018 floods. The state Capital Budget has initially awarded $200,000 for flood mitigation to the Frederick YMCA, and earmarked an additional $100,000 to repair drinking water infrastructure in the city of Brunswick.

“We have fully recovered as far as it relates to the flood itself,” said Chris Colville, president of Frederick County YMCAs.

The Frederick YMCA on North Market Street sustained $1.4 million in damage from water and sewage backups during a flood in the city of Frederick last May. Insurance covered the cost to clean and rebuild the center, but $525,000 of preventive flood mitigation projects identified after the flood to stop future damage is on the YMCA to fund.

The YMCA has already installed six watertight flood doors — at a cost of $10,000 each — and added multiple removable barriers to stop floodwater. The $200,000 from the state will help pay for approximately $295,000 of remaining upgrades, including brick retaining walls, flood doors, storm drain improvements and a second generator to run pumps in case water infiltrates the building again, Colville said.

Funding for the YMCA came as a shock to some on the delegation, because it was not on its priority list. The YMCA was already earmarked to receive $400,000 to construct a new building in the southern portion of the county by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

“Why bother asking us our priorities if you’re going to ignore them,” Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) said. “... Something broke down. I don’t know where it broke down, but something broke down.”

All of Lewis Young’s priorities were later partially funded in the state Senate’s capital budget. Del. Carol Krimm (D-Frederick), who sits on the House Appropriations Committee but was not involved in the capital budget decisions, also did not know how the YMCA was selected to be funded over the delegation’s stated priorities, she said.

The city of Brunswick also lost use of 20 percent of its drinking water, due to groundwater infiltration at Yourtee Springs during the heavy rain in 2018. Possible contamination from the groundwater shut down the facility, and repairs are expected to cost in the realm of $600,000.

City Administrator David Dunn said by email the city budgeted for half of the repairs in the current fiscal year and for the other half in 2020. The state plans to provide $100,000 to assist with the project.

Fixing the spring is advantageous for Brunswick, as it costs $1 to filter 300 gallons of spring water compared with $1 to filter a gallon of water from the Potomac River, Dunn said.

The state has also approved four smaller allocations for Frederick County, including:

  • $25,000 for Heritage Frederick.

  • $50,000 for Frederick Bocce.

  • $50,000 for the Sophie and Madigan Lillard Memorial Playground.

  • $75,000 for Federated Charities.

Elin Ross, executive director of Federated Charities in downtown Frederick, said the money will be used to begin $1.5 million to $2 million worth of repairs planned for the next five years at its 2,300-square-foot building, which houses and provides professional services to other county nonprofits. The building was constructed in 1820 and needs foundation, brick and mortar, and roof repairs.

Federated Charities will match the state’s $75,000 and plans to leverage other grants to spend approximately $200,000 this year.

“It means that we will be able to do a significant chunk of the work in the first year,” Ross said.

On top of the $500,000 for local bond projects, the capital budget has also given preliminary approval for $502,000 to renovate Linganore Hall and Building E at Frederick Community College.

Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) said he advocated to get the money for the community college into the state Senate’s version of the capital budget. Leaders from the college also visited the delegation earlier in the session to ask for helping finding funding, without which would delay the projects.

Missing from the capital budget was an allocation for the downtown hotel and conference center and its accompanying public infrastructure. Already $1.5 million has been earmarked for 2021, but Young would like to see funding for the coming fiscal year.

“I’m hoping. I’ve had conversations on it,” Young said on Thursday. “... Hopefully we can still do something.”

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