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Group eyes SMECO building for center


Prince Frederick, MD – A group of citizens hoping to create a community for youth activities in Prince Frederick made a pitch for support to Calvert County Neighborhood Watch Monday, Sept. 8. Guffrie Smith of Calvert Collaborative for Youth and Children addressed the gathering of over 20 citizens from various neighborhoods throughout the county.

“We need your help whether you live in Prince Frederick or not,” said Smith, who added Calvert County Government has had several plans for a community center but “no money allocated.”

Smith noted a golden opportunity for the push to get a youth center in Prince Frederick recently materialized when Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) announced it would be closing its Calvert County office on Dares Beach Road.  The satellite facility is scheduled to be shuttered in November.

Tom Dennison, a spokesman for SMECO, confirmed the cooperative would eventually put the property up for sale. A similar office in White Plains was closed and subsequently purchased by a developer from the private sector.

Calvert County Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter [R] said Tuesday, Sept. 9 that county government might be interested in purchasing the facility from SMECO.

“Everybody wants SMECO,” Smith noted during the Sept. 8 meeting. An audience member said she had heard that even Calvert County Public Schools has expressed an interest in buying the property.

In a written synopsis entitled “Recreational Opportunities in the Prince Frederick Town Center,” it is noted there are “18,000 in the Prince Frederick post office zip code. Prince Frederick and its immediate surrounding area contain the county’s largest concentration of subsidized housing units as well as a large number of affordable townhomes and small houses for moderate income families that make up a majority of the town’s population. Two of the county’s four Title 1 elementary schools serve the area, and the middle and high school serving Prince Frederick contain the highest concentration of minorities and FARM [Free and Reduced Meals] students of any middle or high schools in the county system.”

The synopsis goes on to opine that Prince Frederick is bereft of adequate public recreation parks and regulation athletic fields except for those on school-owned properties. The synopsis stated that the Solomons/Lusby area and the Twin Beaches have community centers for holding youth activities operated by Calvert’s Division of Parks and Recreation.

Smith told the Neighborhood Watch organization that he believes the county commissioners will do a feasibility study before any action is taken to create a community center for youth in Prince Frederick.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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