Excerpt from the Frederick News-Post:
A member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission used his public comment period Thursday to formally request a meeting with the mayor, Board of Aldermen and city staff members.
Commissioner Stephen Parnes called a lack of open dialogue between the commissioners and city officials crazy and intolerable. He said that in his four years on the commission, he has never formally met with the key people who help make the decisions on which members vote.
“I am basically after four years of sitting here, saying: Do I resign tonight?” Parnes said Thursday. “Or do I ask for a formal meeting — which we have never, ever had — with the mayor, with the Board of Aldermen, with the head of public works, with anybody in code enforcement, with economic development.
“All these players who have a critical role in the future and what we do here, and I’m simply asking: Can we have a formal meeting with the people that hire us? We are appointed by the mayor and the Board of Aldermen and yet we have never met formally.”
The five commissioners at Thursday’s meeting — Parnes, Dan Lawton, Alan Miner, Peter Regan and Chairman Scott Winnette — unanimously voted to send a letter to Mayor Randy McClement requesting a formal meeting. Commissioners Carrie Albee, Matt Bonin and Michael Simons did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
Patti Mullins, a spokeswoman for the mayor, wrote in a text message Thursday after Parnes’ announcement that McClement will wait to receive the letter before responding to the commissioners’ request.
Parnes said he has fielded questions and comments from residents about a variety of decisions on various cases in the historic district. While he did not go into specifics, he said the commission has had some big cases recently that have called into question utility, privacy and other issues and he does not believe the commissioners have been adequately kept in the loop.
Recently, city officials made a decision that overrode an HPC vote by ordering the demolition of a dilapidated building at 56 S. Market St. for safety reasons. Historic Preservation Commission members had denied a request from the property owner to demolish the structure, citing its significance as a contributing resource to the historic district. The city’s demolition order negated that decision.
“We should be talking publicly. We should have dialogue. I shouldn’t have to feel that I need to dress up to be here, but I feel I do,” Parnes said. “And I feel we need to have a meeting of all of us because I think we’re all really on the same page, but we don’t talk about it. Conversation, open dialogue, is so darn important to how we function as a community and as a society, and we’re not doing it.”
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, who serves as the aldermanic liaison to the HPC, said she is not sure how the process works to set a public meeting, but agreed that sending a letter to the mayor is likely the best place to start. She said she plans to talk with the mayor and find out where to go from there. She noted that the Historic Preservation Commission and the Board of Aldermen are both public entities, so any conversation that is held will have to be public.
Winnette said he hopes the mayor and aldermen can set up the conversation for a future workshop.