Havre de Grace council postpones action on new economic development agency

The members of the Havre de Grace City Council agreed Tuesday to postpone taking action on a charter resolution that would amend the city charter to create an economic development department and the position of economic development director.

The council members had introduced the resolution during their Aug. 19 meeting, and a public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.

Economic Development Manager Meghan Simmons, who was scheduled to step down at the end of August, reported to the city's director of administration. A department and director-level position, reporting to the mayor, would be created through the charter amendment.

"It's evident that economic development is on everybody's radar screen... it only makes sense to elevate that to the level of a director," Councilman Dave Glenn had said during the Aug. 19 council meeting.

Joe Kochenderfer, a former city councilman, blasted the reasoning behind Charter Resolution 276 during the public hearing Tuesday, which preceded the council meeting.

Kochenderfer, who read from prepared remarks, said that the move would, in his opinion, "result in empire building where, I think, an Office of Economic Development has served the city pretty well."

He also saw a department with only a few employees as an "insult" to the city's other, larger departments, and noted council members had decided in the spring to not make the part-time economic development manager's position a full-time position to save money in the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.

"If I haven't made myself clear, I think this is a case of, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,' and I don't think it is broken," Kochenderfer said. "Let the city stay with an Office of Economic Development and forget about building a bigger bureaucracy."

Council President Randy Craig, with support from Councilmen John Correri and Joseph Smith, said a vote on the resolution should be postponed to the next council meeting, after further discussions with council members and city residents. The council will meet again on Sept. 16.

"I hope we can do continue to do business in this way and I think at the end of the day it will result in better legislation," Craig said.

Community/Unity Day recap

Patrick Sypolt, risk manager for Havre de Grace, gave the mayor and council members an update on the Aug. 17 Community/Unity Day, which was sponsored in part by the city and took place at the Havre de Grace Activity Center.

"The focus of this event was to inspire our youth and reinforce in them the strong support that their community has for them and their families," Sypolt said, reading from prepared remarks.

Seventy-eight local youths attended the four-hour event, he said.

Those attending had the opportunity to hear from speakers such as Adrian Branch, a former University of Maryland and Los Angeles Lakers basketball player and current ESPN college basketball analyst, as well as former Los Angeles Raider and Olympic bobsledder Greg Harrell, plus Ray Sydnor, a former Philadelphia Eagle and founder and CEO of the Mentoring Academics Athletics Partnership of Baltimore.

Sydnor, who resides in Havre de Grace, sought support from the city to hold the event.

He attended Tuesday' council meeting with his wife, Patricia, and thanked city leaders for their support and told them "what we're looking forward to is doing more events," such as Thanksgiving food drives and Christmas toy drives.

Sydnor noted that about nine out of 10 children he speaks to want to be professional athletes when they grow up. He said that is a possibility if they are the right size for the game but also explained sports can still benefit youths who might not be able to play at a professional level.

"Through sports we can [reach] them where they are and take them where they need to go," he said.

Co-sponsors of the Community/Unity Day included the APG Federal Credit Union, Adams Chevrolet, Atlantic Automotive, the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County, Bruster's Real Ice Cream, the Harford County Department of Community Services, the Havre de Grace Police Department, the Havre de Grace Recreation Committee, the Mountain Christian Riders motorcycle club, Pat's Pizza and Helping Hands Ministries.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad