When Marylanders reflect on William Donald Schaefer's life in public office, his most defining accomplishments are obviously related to tourism and economic development. Most folks would immediately and appropriately point to the World Trade Center, the Convention Center, Harborplace, the Aquarium and Camden Yards as obvious reminders of Mr. Schaefer's great legacy. And when it comes to his accomplishments outside of the city, many will cite the improvements along U.S. Route 50 on the Eastern Shore, replacing the narrow bridges over Kent Narrows and the Choptank River, erasing hours of headaches and frustrations from countless vacationers.
What has gone largely unnoticed, however, was Mr. Schaefer's dedication to another crown jewel of our state's tourism industry, Western Maryland. As with Route 50, Mr. Schaefer made the construction of Interstate 68 in Allegany County a major priority of his administration. As a result, the region began to flourish. Rocky Gap Lodge, the thriving campus of Frostburg State University and the economic development seen in Deep Creek Lake throughout the last 15-20 years would not have been possible without the completion of I-68 and the major transportation gateway it has become.
So while Marylanders fondly reflect on a bustling Inner Harbor and easier trips to Ocean City as reminders of William Donald Schaefer's legacy, let us also not forget his significant contributions to Western Maryland tourism and the unprecedented levels of prosperity that the region has enjoyed as a result of his public service to the entire state.
Brendan M. Marr, ColumbiaCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun