www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/news/ph-re-port-deposit-0907-20120905,0,6934115.story

baltimoresun.com

Port Deposit laments effects of poor economy

BY BRYNA ZUMER, Record staff

12:37 AM EDT, September 6, 2012

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The Town of Port Deposit intends to introduce an ordinance next month that would prohibit media companies from distributing free fliers or newspapers that Mayor Wayne Tome said "litter up the town."

The ordinance will be introduced next month and is mostly aimed at The Baltimore Sun, which owns The Record, he said.

"They just keep throwing them on the street and our people have to go clean them up," Tome said, explaining the problem is exacerbated by the many vacant properties in town that nevertheless get unsolicited mail.

The issue tied in with the public comment period during the town's council meeting Tuesday evening, when residents brought up their concerns about the Historic Area Commission, Tome said.

"Some people think we should be more diligent in code enforcement but we don't have any full-time employees," he said, noting the town only has part-time employees.

The historic commission has been affected by the economy like everyone else, he said.

"In this economy, grant money has dried up and the ability of people to do things has dried up," he said, discussing the town's struggles in the economy as a whole. "We have a lot of absentee landlords and a lot of vacant buildings. Property values went down and we lost $90,000 in [tax] assessments," he said.

The floods after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 have also taken a toll.

"We have a lot of houses sitting idle after the flood," he said.

Chasing down absentee landlords and addressing management problems have required a lot of the town's time and money, he said.

He does not see that turning around until the Bainbridge property, home of the former naval center, is developed.

The property has not made much news lately, and Tome said the Bainbridge Development Corporation is still negotiating the process of removing contaminants in what has become an ongoing clean-up situation.

"We need to get a big developer to come in," he said about the town's needs.

Andrew Doria progressing

Port Deposit is sailing along with plans to build a historic ship in town, thanks to a $2,000 donation from the VFW.

The town council approved the fund transfer from the military group at its meeting Tuesday night, Tome said Wednesday.

It had already signed a preliminary agreement in early August allowing an organization to build the historic Andrew Doria, which was the first American ship to be saluted by a foreign nation, on Nov. 16, 1776.

St. Eustatius, part of the Netherlands Antilles, was the first to recognize the sovereignty of the United States. The Antilles were formerly known as the Netherlands West Indies in the Caribbean Sea.

The Andrew Doria organization, which is based in Kent County, originally wanted to build the ship in Havre de Grace and even posted a sign at its future shipyard, about 100 yards away from the Lockhouse Museum.

The organization's officials say it will fully pay for the cost of $8 million.