The last year was “a great year” for the city of Aberdeen, and 2019 will be, too, the mayor said this week.
“I am confident, no matter what 2019 brings, it will be great as well,” Mayor Patrick McGrady said Monday night during his State of the City’s Business address to city council.
Small incremental gains made day to day result in small changes in patterns of behavior, which lead to bigger changes over time, he said.
“The city is stronger this year, because it was stronger this month, and stronger this week because we make gains daily on small things. Yes, there are always minor setbacks, but small gains over time make it look easy,” McGrady said.
The mayor cautioned, however, that hard times will come.
“We must grow prudently and judiciously, not grow for the sake of growing, but invest in quality,” McGrady said.
He pointed out many of the city’s accomplishments in 2018:
- An agreement was reached to extend Middleton Road from Route 22 to Beards Hill Road, 40 years after it was first discussed, and at that busy corner, the first Starbucks in Aberdeen is under construction. The Route 22 project was also completed, after nearly five years. “It took too long, but now that it’s done, we’re starting to see some of the pent-up value that’s been held back for years,” McGrady said.
- In the same area, Upper Chesapeake Health announced it would be creating a multi-million medical campus in a building that has been vacant since it was built in 2012. “That will be a game-changer,” he said.
- The former Moose Lodge “eyesore” is being converted to a Prost German restaurant, set to open in the spring.
- A new park for teens and adults was built at Church Green Square and Festival Park (with a gazebo, statue of an eagle in flight, a clock and the APG workers memorial) and Victory Park (a new disc golf course and dog park) were substantially improved.
- The former Aberdeen High School building was sold and will be repurposed to be used by senior citizens.
- Lidl grocery store opened Wednesday.
- Tops on McGrady’s personal list was completion of a handicap-accessible ramp to the Aberdeen Post Office on West Bel Air Avenue, “after decades of talk, inertia and no movement,” he said.
- Aberdeen Police Department continues to provide “world class” service to the city’s residents, and the city was recognized as the safest city in Harford County and the fourth safest in Maryland.
- The city continues to build its partnership with Aberdeen Proving Ground, the county’s largest employer and hosted a job fair to attract more people to the cybersecurity field on post. “The ability to talk with employees outside the APG fence was a major attraction for many attendees,” McGrady said.
- Aberdeen will become a test site for one of Maryland’s “Community That Cares” drug intervention program. “Like every city and county across the country, we are seeing the scourge of drugs far too frequently and far too costly,” McGrady said. “With the community that Cares initiative, Aberdeen had the potential to be a leader in the state in combatting drug use at the middle and high school ages.”
- The city also ended FY 2018 with a $250,000 surplus.
The mayor thanked his colleagues on the council for their hard work in 2018 as well as their families for their support.
“While we don’t always agree, I believe we are bonded in agreement that Aberdeen has and will do extraordinary things,” McGrady said. “Our city is on the move and we are headed in a positive direction.”
After all that in 2018, the Aberdeen council and staff “need to continue their work to maintain financial stability while balancing the needs of the community.”
“We must stay competitive and appealing,” McGrady said. “We all believe that at the heart of the matter, it will be economic development serving as the catalyst if Aberdeen continues the past improvements.”
The city must continue to work hard in 2019 and it takes the work of everyone to make it better, he said.
“The work of this council, our professional staff, the schools, churches, non-profits, volunteers and citizens across our community must continue to focus on our quality of life, the foundation of all growing communities,” McGrady said. “It can’t be all done through government, but the active time and ‘sweat equity’ of business, religious, social, military men and women, volunteers or employees that make Aberdeen the community that it is and the city we want it to be.”