Cumberland, Md. divided as residents battle big business bulldozing homes

Thanks to WJLA Channel 7 News & Jay Korff for coming out & Spotlighting us in Western Md. To watch the video for this please go HERE as I cant get it to share at the moment.

 

From afar, Cumberland looks like a thriving, picturesque city nestled in the mountains of Western Maryland. But this former industrial center is among thepoorest towns in America in terms of per capita income.

“We’ve faced a downward trajectory for many decades,” says Shawn Hershberger, Executive Director of the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation.

Since the 1950’s, Cumberland’s population has been cut in half in the wake of plant closings. It’s down to about 20,000 residents.

Cumberland is also sliced in two by Interstate 68. But there’s something else deeply dividing this town.

“I think it’s the most absurd idea I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” says homeowner Susan Bolyard.

A dozen homeowners are locked in a bitter battle with city leaders over the very future of their neighborhood.

Homeowner Woody Gordon says, “A bomb fell out of the sky and managed to land here on our neighborhood.” Woody Gordon is talking about Rolling Mill: a cluster of 67 properties just south of I-68.

More than a year ago the city identified this area as ideal for commercial development, claiming this blighted, high crime community could be transformed into a hub of business activity.

Hershberger says, “It could be any mix of lodging, dining and retail.”

Shawn Hershberger runs the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation: the group heading up the Maryland Avenue Revitalization Project. He believes this undertaking will create jobs, increase the tax base and spur economic growth.

“This administration has decided that we want to try to make a difference,” says Hershberger.

So his group, with more than $2 million in city funds, is buying and bulldozing homes to make way for new businesses. A developer plans to purchase the land from the city and place a variety of businesses on the 6.4 acre tract. But there’s a catch.

People like 82-year-old Walter Moore still live here. “Well I ain’t got any place else to go. I don’t want to go to an old folk’s home,” says Moore.

He and his wife of 62 years have no intention of leaving. And he resents those who think business interests should trump his quality of life.

Moore says, “They have no heart. People like us, they treat us like garbage. Get out. You’re in our road. We don’t want your damn house we want the land.”

Hershberger says in his experience the purchasing of properties has been fair and equitable. But a dozen homeowners, part of a coalition called Save Our Homes Alliance, are holding out.

Susan Bolyard, who says her house was built in 1897 as a wedding present for her great, great aunt, is not budging.

“It’s my home and I’m not selling,” says Bolyard.

Larry and Debbie Darby say they aren’t going anywhere either.

“I guess we’re kind of troublemakers in a sense,” says Debbie Darby.

The Darby’s have made their position quite clear by hanging a huge banner on their home for all interstate travelers to see that says “HANDS OFF OUR HOMES”.

Darby says, “I don’t think the city likes our sign too much.”

Redevelopment supporters argue this neighborhood has been an eyesore for years.

“And that’s one of the reasons why we are doing this project because there are dozens of homes down there that have been in really horrible shape,” says Hershberger.

If you walk around Rolling Mill you’ll see an odd assortment of litter like a row of discarded television sets on a front porch and a couple decaying arm chairs resting in alley ways. It’s hard to know how long those items have been there.

Bolyard says, “This neighborhood was not an eyesore last year. Yes, there were some run down houses. It’s an eyesore now. Because they have bought so many properties and just let them sit and if you look at the house next to me it looks like a jungle.”

Look around and you’ll see clear code violations like yards covered in tall weeds. A city official admitted most of the purchased properties have code violations. But he added the city doesn’t have the time, money or interest to clean up properties that will soon be demolished.

Hershberger says, “If we have a yard that we need to maintain that we need to get somebody down there to mow we will do so. We just got dropped off a bill for yard maintenance today. We’ve tried to keep in front of that.”

Redevelopment supporters also argue crime has plagued Rolling Mill for years so a new start makes sense.

“That neighborhood had the highest concentration of criminal activity in Allegany County. We had people that we purchased homes from that were happy to get out of that neighborhood,” says Hershberger.

According to federal crime statistics from 2014, the latest available, Rolling Mill had a higher crime rate than most Cumberland neighborhoods but not the highest. The city’s police chief tells ABC7 News that back in 2014 Rolling Mill did not have the highest call volume and was not the neighborhood he worried about the most.

If there’s one person who thinks the city’s logic for leveling Rolling Mill is flawed it‘s Woody Gordon. “Well I’m a grown man. It’s painful but I’m totally prepared to fight it,” says Gordon.

He refuses to even negotiate.

Gordon says, “You got the wrong guy. I’m not the guy to pick out to say you need to get out, make us happy, we’ll make you whole. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to make me whole leave me alone.”

This 64-year-old retired railroader outlived the three most important people in his life: his father, mother and brother. To him, their memories are inextricably linked to his home. To him giving in would be selling out.

Gordon says, “And they would flip over in their graves if they thought I was dealing the house away.”

There’s another reason Gordon can’t bear to relocate again. In the late 1960s, as a teenager, his family had to move when I-68 cut through town.

“This is my second time. So that really pisses me off,” says Gordon.

In that case eminent domain applied because there was a public good associated with building an interstate. This coalition of homeowners is worried that eminent domain will be used again. But so far it hasn’t.

Hershberger says, “I can tell you right now we have never threatened it, never brought it up, we have never taken any actions towards the use of eminent domain.”

We’re told what’s more likely for Rolling Mill is what some call a build around. That’s where new businesses and old homes co-exist, side by side, as neighbors.

“It looks like people being built around and that’s not a situation that we want to see not just for the people there and the city as a whole,” says Hershberger.

For some, the home is more than brick and mortar. It’s a place where shared memories create the lasting and unbreakable bonds of family.

For others, all of Cumberland is the home and this land represents a chance to improve a struggling city’s economic trajectory.

Hershberger, who grew up in Cumberland and at one time lived in the Rolling Mill neighborhood says, “What we’re trying to do is not about me, it’s not about this administration, it’s not even about the people down there. This is about the future of this community.”

All Shawn Hershberger wants to do is sit down with disgruntled homeowners and talk.

All Walter Moore wants to do is sit down and enjoy from his porch an ever-changing view he never plans on giving up.

“My life depends on this house,” says Moore.

So far, five properties have been cleared or bulldozed. Within two months, the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation hopes to have at least a couple dozen additional homes bulldozed.

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Public Information Act Request Uncovers Smoking Gun

From the Save Our Homes Alliance Page

Save Our Homes Alliance –We hesitate to call anyone a lair. More likely just obfuscating and dissembling. Some amount of tight-lippedness is common to all development projects. There’s a reason for that. Take this illustrative statement in which he clearly minces words: “We’re not threatening anyone with eminent domain.” Well, right, you haven’t literally told any homeowners you’re going to steal their home. That’s because when you tell someone you’re targeting them, they begin to make arrangements like hiring attorneys. However, the city has been telling SOMEONE they’ll abuse eminent domain, it’s just that that someone is their developer, as this letter proves.

June 11, 2015 SENT VIA EMAIL AND HAND DELIVERY City of Cumberland c/o Economic Development Coordinator 57 N Liberty St. Cumberland, MD 21502 Attn: Shawn P. Hershberger Economic Development Coordinator RE: Letter of Intent – Acquisition and Development of Approximate 6.42 Acre Site at 1-68, Exit 43, Maryland Ave. Ladies and Gentlemen: We have had a number of discussions concerning the disposition and development/redevelopment of certain parcels of property (each, a “Parcel”, and collectively, the “Properties”) located and situated in the City of Cumberland, County of Allegany, State of Maryland, as more particularly identified, described, and/or depicted on Exhibit “A” attached hereto and made a part hereof. Based on these discussions, the parties believe that it would be desirable to set forth in writing the understandings we have reached with respect to the principal terms on which we presently intend to proceed with the proposed transactions and certain of the remaining items needed to be accomplished to complete the same. During the course of preparing the Definitive Documents (defined below), we intend to consult with each other and with our respective professional advisors in regard to such remaining items and to determine the optimal structure of the transactions. It is agreed, however, that, except for the provisions of Sections 8, 9, and 11 hereof, this letter of intent (as the same shall be amended, restated, and/or otherwise modified from time to time, the “Letter of Intent”) is non-binding and no party shall have any legally binding obligation hereunder, including the obligation to proceed with the transactions described herein, which obligation shall be created only if and when the parties hereto execute and deliver the Definitive Documents (defined below) for the sale and conveyance to and subsequent redevelopment of the Properties by PTV Capital Partners, LLC and/or its assigns or designees (collectively, the “Developer”) on the terms and subject to the conditions set forth herein and therein. The parties hereto hereby agree to continue good faith negotiations to conclude the Definitive Documents, in principal, on the terms and subject to the conditions described in this Letter of Intent in the timeframes set forth below. 1. Properties; Proposed Transaction: The Properties consist of approximately 66 separate parcels comprising approximately 6.42 acres of land improved with existing commercial and residential buildings (each, a “Building”, and collectively, the “Buildings”) located and situate at Exit 43 off of Interstate 68, Cumberland, Maryland, as more particularly identified, described, and/or depicted on Exhibit “A” attached hereto and made a part hereof. The Properties are part of the section of Cumberland, Maryland designated by the City of Cumberland (the “City”) under a [comprehensive plan (the “CP”) it has promulgated] for a proposed commercial development. The CP contemplates the acquisition of the Properties by the City and the subsequent re-sale of the Properties for economic development. Certain of the Buildings are owner-occupied and certain of the Buildings are rented. The City has the power of eminent domain and/or other legal means to acquire good and marketable title to the Properties (such as the ability to acquire the Properties through the City’s “Blighted Properties” Ordinance and/or otherwise) and intends to utilize these powers to acquire the Properties for economic development. In furtherance of the foregoing, the City has identified and selected Developer as the preferred party to undertake exclusive negotiations with the City of terms and conditions to be incorporated into Definitive Documents (defined below) for the above proposed economic development. Developer has heretofore submitted its plan for the redevelopment of the Properties to the City, and has made a proposal for the construction of a commercial retail development. Developer’s preliminary schematic proposal for the development of the Properties (the “Initial Plan”) is attached hereto as Exhibit “B”. While the Initial Plan represent the Developer’s initial proposed redevelopment of the Properties, the Initial Plan may be revised before the execution of Definitive Documents to reflect any modifications approved by Developer and the City. The Initial Plan is approved by the City in principal as of the date of this Letter oflntent. It is contemplated by the parties that the City will, at its sole cost and expense endeavor to acquire good and marketable fee simple title to the Properties through the City’s power of eminent domain and/or otherwise within two (2) years of the date of this Letter oflntent. Following its acquisition of the Properties, the City shall, at its sole cost and expense, demolish all existing structures located and situate on the Properties and otherwise deliver the Properties to Developer as a consolidated lot or lots (in the reasonable discretion of the Developer) for development in two (2) separate phases of development. Phase I of the proposed development will include certain portions of the Properties fronting on I-68 and Emily Street; and Phase II of the proposed development will include the remaining portions of the Properties located adjacent to “Chik Fil A” bordering Williams Street. The City shall be responsible for any requisite re-zoning for the Developer’s proposed use of the Properties. The City shall be solely responsible for, and shall release, indemnify and protect Developer from any and all claims, demands, suits, actions, investigations, proceedings, damages, liabilities, losses, costs, expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and disbursements) (collectively, “Damages”), at any time asserted against, imposed upon, or incurred by it in connection with or arising out of the City’s proposed acquisition of the Properties and/or their subsequent delivery of the Properties to Developer for the herein intended redevelopment. 2 2. Term. The term of this Letter oflntent shall commence upon the date that this Letter of Intent is executed by the later executing party and expire at 5 :00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time upon the ninetieth (90th) day thereafter (the “Term”), unless: (i) terminated earlier by Developer, or (ii) the parties mutually agree in writing to extend this Letter oflntent. During the term of this Letter of Intent, the City agrees not to actively negotiate with, discuss, or entertain offers from third party purchasers/developers interested in purchasing the Properties. There shall be no deposit due upon the execution and delivery of this Letter oflntent. The Purchase Price may be allocated by and among the respective Parcels as shall reasonably be determined by Developer in the Definitive Documents. The Purchase Price shall be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the Definitive Documents. 3. Purchase Price. The parties hereto have agreed in principle that the aggregate purchase price for the Properties will be $935,000.00 (the “Purchase Price”). 4. Definitive Documents; Point of Contact. Forthwith upon the execution and delivery of this Letter oflntent, we, and our respective counsel(s) (as shall be necessary) shall engage in frank and open communication in order to begin the preparation of the Definitive Documents and the other documents to implement the transactions contemplated hereby. The Definitive Documents shall include (i) an agreement of sale for the acquisition by Developer of the Properties in substantially the form of Developer’s standard Agreement of Sale (the “Agreement of Sale”) attached hereto as Exhibit “C” and made a part hereof, (ii) a development/construction agreement (the “Construction Agreement”) setting forth and confirming the respective duties and obligations of the parties regarding the proposed development as well as the key economic, design, and development terms thereof and otherwise in form and substance satisfactory to the parties, and (iii) other customary documentation for real estate transactions of the type contemplated herein (collectively, the “Definitive Documents”). The parties shall use reasonable efforts to complete the Definitive Documents on or before , 2015. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Agreement of Sale and the Construction Agreement shall provide, inter alia, the following material terms and provisions (i) Developer shall have an initial due diligence period of 180 days with an additional optional extension of 180 days (during which time Developer may terminate the Definitive Documents for any reason or no reason without penalty) in order to perform any inspections, assessments, investigations, plan preparation, studies or tests (including, but not limited to, obtaining site plan approval, MDOT, and sewage approvals, and review of environmental and geotechnical reports) Developer deems appropriate in determining the condition of and/or the desirability of acquiring and developing the Properties, (ii) the City shall have finalized the acquisition of the Properties; shall have razed all existing buildings on the Properties; and shall well and sufficiently transfer, assign, and convey unto Developer by special warranty deed( s ), free and clear of all liens, leases, mortgages and/or other encumbrances (except for Permitted Encumbrances defined in the Agreement of Sale), good and marketable fee simple title (and such as will be insurable by any responsible title insurance company at regular rates) the Properties together with all and singular the easements and appurtenances thereunto appertaining, all right, title and interest of the City in and to any land lying in the bed of any public street, road or avenue opened or proposed in front of or adjoining the Properties, and all right, title and interest of the City in and to any award(s) made or to be made in lieu thereof and in and to any unpaid award for damage to the Properties by 3 reason of change of grade of any street, and (iii) such other representations, warranties, terms and conditions that are typical of the purchase and sale of commercial properties and otherwise in form and substance satisfactory to each of the parties, with the advice of their respective professional advisors, in each party’s respective discretion. Nothing herein shall restrict Developer, from requesting any provisions in the Definitive Documents it may deem necessary or appropriate for the transaction (including, without limitation, representations and warranties regarding the condition ((environmental or otherwise)) of the Properties. Developer may designate an affiliate to enter into the aforementioned Definitive Documents. Either party may name an individual to act as liaison for negotiating the Definitive Agreement with the responsibility, among other things, to see that the terms and conditions of this Letter of Intent are carried out in a timely fashion provided; however, that the City shall designate one point of contact for all negotiations and/or other aspects of the transactions contemplated herein. The initial point of contact for the City shall be Shawn P. Hershberger. 5. Agreements. The parties hereto hereby agree that Prior to the closing of the transactions contemplated by this Letter of Intent, the City shall have completed, or caused to be completed, at its sole cost and expense, the following conditions precedent to Developer acquiring the Properties (i) the acquisition of all of the Properties, (ii) the demolition of each of the Buildings and the removal and proper disposal of all resulting debris (including, but not limited to, lead paint, asbestos tile or shingles and/or other environmentally sensitive items), (iii) the consolidation of the Properties into one or more tax parcels (as shall be reasonably requested by Developer), (iv) all necessary zoning change(s) and/or approval(s) required for Developer’s proposed use of the Properties has been secured, (v) an acceptable environmental assessment has been secured for the Properties (post demolition), and (vi) the City is capable of transferring title to the Properties to Developer in accordance with this Letter of Intent. 6. Due Diligence; Discussions with Partners. During the course of the preparation of the Definitive Documents, and so long as the term of this Letter oflntent remains in effect, the City shall make available to Developer and its counsel and other representatives such documents, books, records and information relating to the Properties as shall be reasonably requested from time to time. The City shall also afford Developer, its counsel and its other representatives physical access to the Properties for evaluation and further testing, provided that any invasive or structural work shall require the City’s prior written approval (not to be unreasonably withheld, conditioned and/or delayed) and shall not interfere with the use and occupancy of the Properties by the current owners and/or the City, and provided further that Developer shall indemnify the City for any damages caused to the Properties by Developer or its affiliates or representatives resulting from any such evaluation or testing. Developer shall carry satisfactory insurance that names the City as additional insured to cover such risks. 7. Binding Nature. It is understood and agreed by and among the parties hereto that, except for the provisions in Sections 8, 9 and 11, this Letter oflntent is a non-binding letter of intent, which shall not in any way constitute a binding and enforceable agreement between the parties. In the event the discussions result in a decision to proceed with the contemplated transactions, the parties shall do so only pursuant to the terms of the Definitive Documents. At any time prior to the execution and delivery of the Definitive Documents, Developer may decide to terminate this non-binding letter of intent and not go forward with discussions, in which event notice of 4 such termination shall be given in writing by Developer to the City, and neither party shall have any liability to the other arising out of this Letter oflntent or its subject matter. 8. Confidential Information. Developer and City understand and agree that in the performance of this Letter of Intent and the transactions contemplated hereby, each party in the future may have access to private or confidential information of the other party, including, but not limited to, project acquisition, development, letters of intent or proposed leases, marketing plans, business plans, business methods, financial information, pricing information, and/or customer information (collectively, the “Confidential Information”). Both parties agree that the terms of this Letter of Intent, including, without limitation, its financial terms, shall be deemed Confidential Information. Each party agrees that: (i) all Confidential Information shall remain the exclusive property of the owner of such information; (ii) it shall maintain, and shall use prudent methods to cause its members, owners, officers, directors, representatives, professional advisors, employees and agents to maintain, the confidentiality and secrecy of the Confidential Information; (iii) it shall not, and shall use prudent methods to ensure that its employees and agents do not, copy, publish, disclose to others or use (other than pursuant to the terms hereof) the Confidential Information; and (iv) it shall return or destroy all copies of Confidential Information upon request of the other party or expiration/termination of this Letter of Intent for any reason. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Confidential Information shall not include any information to the extent it is or becomes a part of the public domain through no act or omission on the part of the receiving party or information that is known by the receiving party prior to such party’s receipt from the other party or is made known to a party by a third party without an obligation of confidentiality or nondisclosure. This Section 5 shall survive the termination or expiration of this Letter of Intent. Each party acknowledges and agrees that the disclosure of Confidential Information of the other party in violation of this Letter of Intent will result in irreparable harm to the other party. A party shall have the right to immediately seek injunctive relief in the event the other party discloses or threatens to disclose Confidential Information to a third party in breach of this Section 8, which remedy shall be in addition to any other legal remedies which may be available at law or in equity. 9. Waiver. EXCEPT FOR CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO SECTION 5, NEITHER PARTY SHALL BE LIABLE TO THE OTHER OR ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING LOST PROFITS AND LOST REVENUES, ARISING OUT OF OR RESULTING FROM THIS LETTER OF INTENT, EVEN IF A PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. THE FOREGOING SHALL APPLY REGARDLESS OF: (I) THE NEGLIGENCE OF EITHER PARTY; (II) A FAILURE OF AN ESSENTIAL PURPOSE; AND (III) WHETHER SUCH LIABILITY SOUNDS IN CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, TORT, OR ANY OTHER THEORY OF LEGAL LIABILITY. I 0. Validity. Whenever possible, each provision of this Letter of Intent shall be interpreted in such manner as to be effective and valid under applicable law. In the event that any provision of this Letter of Intent or the application thereof to the parties hereto or any circumstance in any jurisdiction governing this Letter of Intent shall, to any extent, be invalid or unenforceable under 5 any applicable statute, regulation or rule of law, then such provision shall be deemed inoperative to the extent that it may conflict therewith, and shall be deemed modified to conform to such statute, regulation or rule of law to the extent permitted in keeping with the intentions of the parties hereto, and the remainder of this Letter of Intent and the application of any such invalid or unenforceable provision to the parties, jurisdictions or circumstances other than to whom or which it is held invalid or unenforceable, shall not be affected thereby nor shall same affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision of this Letter of Intent. 11. Exclusivity. In consideration of the expenditure of time, effort and expense undertaken and to be undertaken by Developer in connection with the proposed acquisition and development of the Properties, the City covenants that, until this Letter of Intent is terminated or expires without the execution of Definitive Documents, the City shall not, nor shall the City permit any office, political subdivision, branch, officer, director or employee of the City or any affiliate thereof to have any communication with any person in connection with the possible sale and/or development of the Properties. It is understood by and among the parties hereto that the City has designated Developer as the exclusive party to acquire and/or develop the Properties. It is further understood by Developer that the City is permitted to select Developer as the aforementioned exclusive party without the requirement of a formal request for proposals, bidding process and/or other request or procedure. 12. Opportunity to Consult With Counsel. EACH PARTY HAD A FULL AND AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO CONSULT LEGAL COUNSEL REGARDING THIS LETTER OF INTENT PRIOR TO SIGNING, HAS FREELY, AND VOLUNTARILY ENTERED INTO THIS LETTER OF INTENT, AND HAS READ AND UNDERSTOOD EACH AND EVERY PROVISION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, EACH PARTY’S RIGHTS, OBLIGATIONS, AND APPLICABLE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS SET FORTH HEREIN. BOTH PARTIES ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT ANY INTERPRETATION OF THIS LETTER OF INTENT SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AGAINST A PARTY BY VIRTUE OF ITS HAVING DRAFTED THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS HEREUNDER. 13. Governing Law; Headings. The construction, interpretation and enforcement of this Letter of Intent, as well as any and all tort claims arising from this Letter of Intent or arising from any of the proposals, negotiations, communications or understandings regarding this Letter of Intent, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, applicable to contracts made entirely within and wholly performed in Pennsylvania, without regard to the conflict or choice of laws provisions thereto. The sole jurisdiction and venue for any litigation arising out of this Letter of Intent shall be an appropriate federal or state court located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, except that either party may seek injunctive relief in any venue of its choosing. The headings or titles of the paragraphs or subparagraphs of this Letter of Intent are for convenience only and shall not be used as an aid in construction of any provision hereof. 14. Cumulative Remedies: Waivers: Iniunctive Relief. All remedies available to either party for breach of the contractually binding provisions of this Letter of Intent are cumulative and may be exercised concurrently or separately, and the exercise of any one remedy shall not be deemed 6 an election of such remedy to the exclusion of other remedies. The failure of either party at any time to require performance by the other party of any provision hereof shall not affect the full right to require such performance at any time thereafter, nor shall the waiver by either party of a breach of any provision hereof be taken or held to be a waiver of any succeeding breach of such provision or as a waiver of the provision itself. 15. Entire Agreement; Amendments; Assignment; Independent Contractors. This Letter of Intent is the entire agreement between Developer and the City and supersedes any other communications, advertisements or understandings with respect to the subject matter hereunder. This Letter of Intent may be amended only in a writing, signed by both parties. No third party is a beneficiary of this Letter of Intent. Other than Developer’s right to assign this Letter of Intent to an affiliate and/or single purpose development entity, this Letter of Intent is not assignable by either party in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the other party. Both parties are acting in performance of this Letter of Intent as independent contractors. This Letter of Intent does not create an association, joint venture, partnership, or jointly owned assets or equity between Developer and City nor imposes any partnership liability upon either Developer or City for any act or omission of the other. 16. Costs; Funding. Each party is responsible for its own costs and expenses which may be incurred for the negotiation and preparation of this Letter of Intent, that may arise during the Term and which may arise out of its obligations and efforts under this Letter of Intent. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the City has identified certain available State funding available to fund the City’s proposed acquisition of the Properties and demolition of the Buildings including, but not limited to, (i) approximately $216,000 in funding earmarked for demolition of the Buildings, (ii) approximately $140,000 earmarked for blighted properties, (iii) approximately $250,000 earmarked for blighted properties for fiscal year 2016, and (iv) approximately $500,000 in Parcel specific “Smart Growth” Fund dollars earmarked for redevelopment within the City (collectively, the “State Subsidies”). The City covenants and agrees to timely apply for and/or otherwise diligently prosecute to completion each such application in order to secure the State Subsidies. 17. Notices. All notices and other communications in connection with this Letter of Intent and the transactions contemplated hereunder shall be in writing and shall be either telecopied, faxed, delivered personally, delivered by reputable overnight courier or mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, postage pre-paid, to the recipient at such recipient’s address set forth below (or at such other address for a party as shall be specified by notice given pursuant hereto): (i) If to City: City of Cumberland 57 N Liberty Street Cumberland, MD 21502 Attn: Shawn P. Hershberger, Economic Development Coordinator Fax: 301-759-6432 7 (ii) If to PTV Capital Partners, LLC PTV Capital Partners, LLC 1563 Woodward Drive Extension Greensburg, PA 15601 Attn: Timothy H. Weinman Fax: 724-420-5369 With a Required Copy to: Duffy & Nichols 150 Robbins Station Road, Ste 4 North Huntingdon, PA 15642 Attn: Matthew M. Nichols, Esq. Fax: 724-864-9193 All such notices shall be effective and deemed received upon delivery, if delivered by hand; three (3) days after deposit in the mail, postage prepaid, if mailed; upon receipt, in the case oftelecopy (fax) or sent by overnight courier. Notice may be given by attorneys on behalf of the parties. 18. Counterparts. This Letter of Intent may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original, and all such counterparts when taken together shall for all purposes constitute a single instrument, binding on all parties hereto, notwithstanding that all parties shall not have executed the same counterpart. 19. Conflicts with Exhibits. In case of any conflict between the terms of this Letter of Intent and the provisions of any Exhibits hereto, the terms of this Letter of Intent shall control. All pronouns and any variations thereof shall be deemed to refer to the masculine, feminine, neuter, singular or plural forms thereof, as the context may require. 20. Brokers. Each party represents that it has dealt with no broker in connection with the transactions contemplated hereby, and each party agrees to indemnify the other against all fees, expenses and compensation payable to any broker or finder engaged by or claiming through or under such party with respect to the transactions contemplated hereby.

The City is NOT planning use of governmental powers including eminent domain.” – Brian Grim

Oh really? See the smoking gun evidence for yourself. Obtained in a Public Information Act request.

Response to Mayor Grim’s Times News Article

This is the Title from an article written by the Mayor of Cumberland last Sunday.

Cumberland Mayor: Money driving force for holdouts

There are SO many things wrong with this letter that I really don’t even know where to start my reply. As if this situation isn’t already stressful enough the Mayor has the nerve to basically call us Golddiggers looking for a Life Upgrade. He has stated this in the past on his personal Facebook page. He has the majority of us blocked. However its a small town so blocking is pretty much useless, word gets around. Those posts have sense been deleted. But this article in the Times News won’t go away anytime soon.

This has NEVER been an issue about money. Not now, Not in the Past and it won’t be in the Future!  The Mayor suggested that we were planning on “Prolonging this struggle in the courts” I’m honestly not even sure where he would come up with this conclusion. Because courts obviously mean Eminent Domain. And I really don’t think that any of us wants it to come down to that. But my question is this. He says he’s confident that this project will go through and demolition will start in June. With so many of us still living here on Emily Street, Cecelia Street, Maryland Avenue, Williams Street an Park Street. And were NOT selling. Will they be tearing down around us? Emily as of right now still has 4 occupied homes and the old Sunoco Garage that’s NOT for sale.. So now what?

save-rollling-mill-cumberland-event-graphic-03

We are having a Block Party Sponsored by the Institute for Justice on Sunday. It had to be postponed by a day thanks to the Rain in the forecast. And it should be a great Fun day that I invite everyone to stop by and visit. The Mayor stated he would be showing up to talk to us in his article. He has since backed out. But here’s your Open Invitation Mr Grim to visit my Street and actually meet me in person. Since I haven’t had the pleasure yet. You probably wouldn’t like the fact that the answer would be NO but please stop by. And as for the Mayor’s response to the Rolling Mill never taking Pride in this area. I am directing him to my friend Melanie Michael who devoted many years to the parties that were hosted here. I do think the Mayor owes her a HUGE apology. I am also posting an old flyer from 2011 for proof that there has been Block Parties in the past. But funds have been low the last few years. 13227059_10206091014449740_608958405664131203_n

The next part that I wish to talk about is this “their high-dollar, out-of-town attorney” As of this moment we are being represented by the Institute for Justice that is a Non Profit Organization. They found our Journey to be one that they wanted to represent. We have not paid anyone out of pocket as of this moment. I invite you to check out their webpage Here. They have graciously created a website for us and have several billboards located around town right now. 13015535_10156912252645613_3714392556964997107_n

Feel free to checkout The webpage IJ created Save Rolling Mill

“I remain concerned that the residents are paying for and receiving bad advice, while potentially being preyed upon by other outside influences.” (Mayor Grim) We haven’t paid for anything yet. See above IJ has been helping us, not giving us bad advice. Along with Preservation MD an the Lawyers that have taken their time to talk to us. I would never seek advice from anyone in this town, it’s to small and everyone is linked to each other. And they DID NOT seek us out. We went after them with numerous emails an phone calls this past year. So PLEASE Do Not let the Mayor and CEDC fool you or pull the wool over your eyes. This was all due to my Neighbors an I seeking Outside Help.

My last response is to this “The city and CEDC have contacted all residents to offer opportunities to negotiate, including via direct mail, phone calls and personal visits.” (Mayor Grim) I have said this before an I will say it again. I spoke with Shawn Hershberger on August 26th after a friend gave him my phone number. One phone call that is all. I also wrote the Mayor via Facebook before he blocked me an was told that i needed to know what it would take to make me leave. How can I put a price on my Family home? It’s all I have left of everything my Great Grandparents worked towards. To make sure our family would always have home. There has never been any phone calls or letters or contracts sent to my house after that. I might add that Mr Hershberger did try to corner me with his business card after a city hall meeting one night.I did not talk to him and just walked away. Other then that I have never Actually met Mayor Grim or Mr Hershberger in person. They have never to my knowledge been to my house.

We are expected to call the City and the CEDC and offer them our houses. My answer to that is NO! Not really sure how many times we have to say this. ” I believe sensibility will win out in the minds of the residents who are currently fighting economic development in the community for the sake of a greater personal purse.” (Mayor Grim) We ARE NOT against Economic growth as we have been accused of that as well. But until you start using all the Empty Storefronts and Empty land  we already have in this town feel free to build around us, Because were not leaving!

ifj_1499

While your at it… Please sign our petition! 95,000 people Strong!

https://www.change.org/p/mayor-and-city-council-of-cumberland-don-t-bulldoze-my-home

Don’t Bulldoze My Home–Petition for Rolling Mills

It’s been awhile since I have written here. So much is going on, alot to process. It’s stressful yes. However my neighbors & I are NOT giving up this fight.. A petition has been started by the Institute for Justice. The outpouring of support from all over the US & The World is Amazing.. So thank you for that.

If you haven’t had the chance to read this. Please do so by going here. Don’t Bulldoze my Home!

Sign the Petition and please share. It looks like Cumberland, MD is becoming a well known town. Hashtag it #SaveOurHomes #CumberlandMd #MountainMd

Thanks for the support!!!

Intimidation Tactics Fail to Deter Rolling Mill Residents

SOURCE

If you take a drive through the Rolling Mill/Maryland Ave destruction area, you may notice the bright beautiful colors that are painted on the streets. Some are white, some are blue, some are bright yellow, and some are bright green. In the City of Cumberland’s latest attempt to intimidate the “holdouts” to the destruction project, the Mayor and City Council in conjunction with the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation have ordered City Employees to dig up the streets and remove all underground water meters on the properties that have been purchased for or by the City thus far.

Ironically, after the nearly 2-foot snowstorm, not one City employee was instructed to remove one flake of snow from any of the affected properties. However, in the Cumberland Times News dated from Saturday after the snowfall, the City had the unmitigated gall to ask homeowners to remove all remaining snow from their sidewalks. (A Rolling Mill resident eventually took on the task himself). That’s some news, isn’t it?

A bit of advice to the Mayor and Council and members of the CEDC. We, the citizens who are in your destruction plan are 100% NOT intimidated by your arrogant tactics.

The State of Florida has done much to stop the horrific impacts of eminent domain on its citizens. Who knows, maybe Maryland may eventually feel the same way.

Always Paying Attention,

The Save Our Homes Group20160208_174354 (1)

Ineptitude Continues and City Moves Forward with Rolling Mill/Maryland Ave Redevelopment

SOURCE— Name withheld by request  

Isn’t it ironic that the two couches that have sat on the sidewalk in front of 233 Cecelia St. for the last ten days suddenly disappeared on the morning the Mayor and Cumberland Economic Development Corporation chose to respond to the Rolling Mill/Maryland Ave Redevelopment Project?

Isn’t it ironic that Mayor Grim and Shawn Hershberger, to whom I refer as the Twins of Ineptitude, pointed out that 37,000 vehicles pass the MD Ave. Exit every day, yet they neglected to point out that the same vehicles also pass the Baltimore Ave- Willowbrook Rd Exit, the Downtown Cumberland Exit, the Beall St. Exit and the Green St-220 Exit-many of which already lead to vacant commercial space.

This show of solidarity by the Twins of Ineptitude is a direct response to a letter they received from Attorney John Murphy. What that letter very clearly points out are all the things the CEDC and City of Cumberland have done wrong according to the law. Rather than respond to the letter intellectually, the two appear to have decided to be bullheaded and go on with business as usual.

One of the many issues not mentioned by the Mayor and Mr. Hershberger is their absolute denial of access to what should legally be public information.  Perhaps they can explain that. And since their current focus is on creating minimum wage jobs, maybe they can ask a worker at Buffalo Wings if their lives would be better off making $15 to $20 dollars an hour instead of making minimum wage.

The article in the Monday, March 7th Cumberland Times News is the exact response I expected from these Twins of Ineptitude.

Enough is enough. It’s time that the public knew the full extent of this redevelopment plan; from 1- Baltimore Ave. to Central Ave-2 Emily Street/Williams St/Cecelia St/Park St/Md Ave, to 3 Southside of Williams St to Lamont St/Oldtown Road, to 4 Downtown Cumberland/Roses Complex. Because ultimately, that 4 stage plan would involve the destruction of hundreds of homes.

What we’re seeing now is only the first step. I hope the residents of Cumberland are paying attention. The City wants my house today; who’s to say it won’t want your house tomorrow, next month or next year?

Preservation Maryland Loves Cumberland

SOURCE

02/13/2016 — BY PRESERVATION MARYLAND

After we announced our concern over a project that proposes demolishing owner-occupied historic homes in Cumberland, we received some critical barbs from the proponents of the project – comments in the press and local media that suggested we have never cared about Cumberland and are ‘outsiders’ who are scaring the community.

As a statewide organization, we love the Queen Cityand have been busy working on issues impacting Cumberland:

  • In 2015 we advocated for capital funding from the Hogan Administration for the Footer’s Dye Worksproject. We met with the regional legislative delegation during the 2015 session to support the capital request, issued letters of support and encouragement and spoke with members of the governor’s cabinet to make the case for the importance of this project.
  • As a member of the Partners for Open Space, we advocate for the funding that makes Maryland’s Heritage Areas possible – the program that has provided funding to Canal Place in Cumberland since its creation in the 1990s. Keeping the program well-funded in an increasingly tight state budget is no small task, but thanks to many partners and friends willing to make the case, the program received full funding in the FY17 operating budget.

We’re not anti-growth or angry outsiders — we’re friends of Cumberland and this Valentine’s Day, we’re full of #Cumberlove

Intimidation Tactics Fail to Deter Rolling Mill Residents

Written by Save Our Homes Group
Wednesday, 10 February 2016

20160208_174354 (1).jpg

The Picture above is Cecelia Street. There are still Home Owners living here. The water Dept left these signs in front of their homes over a week ago & have yet to return to finish the job at hand.

If you take a drive through the Rolling Mill/Maryland Ave destruction area, you may notice the bright beautiful colors that are painted on the streets. Some are white, some are blue, some are bright yellow, and some are bright green. In the City of Cumberland’s latest attempt to intimidate the “holdouts” to the destruction project, the Mayor and City Council in conjunction with the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation have ordered City Employees to dig up the streets and remove all underground water meters on the properties that have been purchased for or by the City thus far.

Ironically, after the nearly 2-foot snowstorm, not one City employee was instructed to remove one flake of snow from any of the affected properties. However, in the Cumberland Times News dated from Saturday after the snowfall, the City had the unmitigated gall to ask homeowners to remove all remaining snow from their sidewalks. (A Rolling Mill resident eventually took on the task himself). That’s some news, isn’t it?

A bit of advice to the Mayor and Council and members of the CEDC. We, the citizens who are in your destruction plan are 100% NOT intimidated by your arrogant tactics.

The State of Florida has done much to stop the horrific impacts of eminent domain on its citizens. Who knows, maybe Maryland may eventually feel the same way.

Always Paying Attention,

The Save Our Homes Group

The Pictures you are seeing here is the way that Emily Street has been left. The grass has all been left to mounds of dirt and the road now has holes filled with gravel.

Tavern at 508 Park Street- Historic Properties of Rolling Mill

Editor’s Note: This is the second in our series highlighting some of the historic properties of the Rolling Mill neighborhood. The first focused on Kingsley Methodist Church

Written by Chris Stevens
Friday, 12 February 2016

Tavern at 508 Park Street

Discover Historic Rolling Mill: Malamphy’s Saloon (508 Park Street) and The Malamphy Bottling Works 218 Williams Street

The City of Cumberland and the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, an instrumentality of City government, plan to demolish portions of the historic Rolling Mill neighborhood to build incompatible and economically unsustainable low-density sprawl. Proponents of demolition have suggested that the buildings are not historic; so in an effort to better understand what may be lost, we’ll be sharing short stories about many of these threatened properties.

 

The historic Malamphy’s Saloon and Malamphy Bottling Works buildings sit at the intersection of Park and Williams Streets, opposite the former Queen City Park. The 2-story brick structure (506-508 Park Street) with shingled gable dates from at least 1887. Simplified brackets and an elliptical gable window still accent the five bays wide and five bays deep building. The northern half of the building (506 Park) was the residence of Michael J. Malamphy (1862-1934) and his wife Wilhelmina. The southern half of the structure (508 Park) housed the saloon and still retains its original first floor commercial bracketed cornice above the saloon door. During the 1920s, the upper floors of the saloon also served as a boarding house. This building along with the Kingsley Methodist Church around the corner on Williams Street are two of the earliest structures constructed in this portion of the Rolling Mill neighborhood and are reminders of the Cumberland’s grand railroad era of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

 

Michael J. Malamphy also owned the buildings immediately behind his Park Street residence and saloon at 216-222 Williams Street.  Here he operated  the Malamphy Bottling Works beginning around 1890. One of the buildings contained an ice house and another contained the electric bottling and capping equipment.  In 1922, there were five bottlers of soft drinks in Cumberland, including L. T. Carpenter and Son, the Coca Cola Bottling Company, the Malamphy Bottling Works, the Whistle Bottling Company and Ver-Vac Bottling Company. Malamphy ran the bottling works until his death in 1934. Around 1950, the buildings 216-222 Williams Street were replaced with a more modern bottling works factory, built of brick, concrete and steel beams. A bottling works company continued to operate from this location until the 1970s. Today the bottling works building houses Miller’s Ironhouse Gym. Meanwhile, Malamphy Bottling Works bottles may be found for sale in local antique shops.

 

FUTURE PLANS

Unfortunately, the demolition plans for this neighborhood appear to extend to this historic saloon and bottling works as well. The plans call for new construction and surface parking in its place.

 

To read more about the history of this saloon and bottling works and other historic Rolling Mill buildings, please see the Rolling Mill/Maryland Avenue Inventory Form for State Historic Sites Survey prepared by the Maryland Historical Trust, our state historic preservation office: http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/stagsere/se1/se5/000001/000001/000530/pdf/msa_se5_530.pdf

Rolling Mill resident: ‘I’m not giving them my house’

SOURCE

'I'm not giving them my house'https://i2.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/times-news.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/2a/02aa453f-1487-5f2f-816e-f793dd78cfe8/56ae225d4b2cb.image.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/times-news.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/c5/cc59f764-badc-5028-9973-1d11ce9a99e1/56ae225d56b04.image.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/times-news.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/00/b006a057-1132-530a-93e2-fb6b218cd4f9/56ae225d623d5.image.jpg

CUMBERLAND — Many residents in the Maryland Avenue Revitalization Project have been unhappy with the idea of giving up their homes. They are disappointed with the process and the amount of compensation offered by the city, which uses tax assessments as a starting point for negotiations.

Also known as the Rolling Mill project, the plan calls for the removal of 60 homes and a church between Maryland Avenue and Park Street and Williams and Emily streets. Based on economic development studies, the site’s proximity to Interstate 68 and its flat topography make it an attractive site for revitalization.

Many of the residents have stiffened their resolve to stay in their homes or obtain an offer closer to their liking.

Larry and Debbie Darby own 223 Emily St. across from Interstate 68. They raised three boys and daughter at the home.

The Darbys shared the Cumberland Economic Development Corp. contract that contains an offer of $25,500 plus $5,000 for relocation expenses. They have not signed the contract.

“We’ve lived here 28 years. We rented it before and then we bought the house from our landlord,” said Debbie Darby. “Our oldest son, we brought him home from the hospital here and he is 27 now.

“There are so many memories locked up in the house right here,” said Larry Darby, a U.S. Army veteran. “I mean my kids grew up and I taught them how to push a lawn mower and all kids of stuff here.”

The Darbys recently replaced the roof and furnace.

“We don’t have a mortgage. We just paid it off in September,” said Debbie Darby. “We’ve put so much into it. We are in our mid 50s. I don’t want to work forever.”

Larry Darby said he doesn’t want to start over.

“We don’t want another mortgage. For the price they want to give us for the house, we could not go out and buy another house and have the security we have here,” said Larry Darby . “We just put $3,000 in a garage. We remodeled the bathroom and we added vinyl windows.”

Larry Darby is also concerned about the wording in the contract. He said it would make his family responsible for lead paint and other potential hazards for three years after the sale.

The Darbys said they feel better about their situation after attending a recent meeting where real property experts offered the Rolling Mill holdouts options.

“I feel a lot more at ease from what they had said. It’s like we will get some help and there will actually be someone to help us who knows what they’re doing,” said Larry Darby.

The experts told the residents the city must pay for an appraisal before entering into negotiations. The Darbys said they were not offered an appraisal.

“You don’t know what to expect. It causes a lot of stress,” said Larry Darby.

A long process

Susan Bolyard, 209 Emily St., also does not want to move. She said she has been offered $30,000 for her single family home. Bolyard said she has lived there off and on her entire life.

“It belonged to my great-great aunt. It was a wedding present for her,” said Bolyard. “My grandmother lived here since I was born.”

Her story involves working with the city long before the revitalization plan began.

According to Bolyard, the city contacted her in 2007 and requested that she upgrade her home, which had Insulbrick siding. First used in the 1930s, Insulbrick, a composite material, was discontinued in the 1970s. She said the city wanted to fine her if she didn’t get the Insulbrick taken care of.

“I couldn’t afford a $350 a day fine so I just went with it.”

She said the city “made” her get a $40,000 loan.

With the loan, Bolyard received a new roof, siding and wiring for the house. She paid for other improvements herself.

Described by Bolyard as a “low-income loan,” she has been paying on it since 2008. Her base payments are $100 per month.

“It’s a 20-year loan. In 2028, I will owe them $30,000,” said Bolyard.

Currently owing $36,000, she said she was made a verbal offer of $30,000 for her home. She said the offer would leave her in the negative with no way to start again.

“I’m going to sit back and watch. I’m not giving them my house. I don’t want to leave. I owe too much money,” said Bolyard.

‘We want to stay’

Mary Ellen Harrison, 92, and her daughter Pamela, live at 410 Park St. Mary Ellen raised four children, one girl and three boys at her home. All of her children served in the U.S. Air Force, with two retiring from the military branch.

Mary Ellen Harrison worked for the B&O Railroad and CSX. She was a bookkeeper in the Queen City Station. Later she volunteered at Memorial Hospital to serve Meals on Wheels to homebound patients.

“My mother has been here for 47 years. We moved here when I was 14.” said Pam Harrison.

“You don’t know what to do or whether to fix anything. We are waiting. We want to stay in our home,” said Mary Ellen Harrison.

The Harrisons have a reverse mortgage on their home, which has complicated the ability of the CEDC to purchase it. They said they have not talked to anyone with the CEDC, which is trying to talk with the bank first.

“I didn’t know they wanted to buy the house until they contacted the women next door asking to buy hers (property),” said Mary Ellen Harrison.

She said she has many memories at her home.

“I just like it. I like the way it is laid off. I was raised in a log house in Markwood near Burlington (W.Va.),” said Mary Ellen Harrison. “We had a one-room school and a church. I came to Cumberland and I went to Penn Avenue School.”

“I hope we can stay,” said Mary Ellen Harrison. “I know Brian (Mayor Grim) and I like Brian. I know what he is trying to do. I think he has done a good job as mayor but I just don’t want to move. I wished we could stay.”

Mary Ellen Harrison and Pam Harrison are also pleased with the options attorney William Wantz and the preservation experts are offering the holdouts.

$2,000 short

Diane Gilmore, a health care worker, owns 225 Emily St. beside Larry and Debbie Darby.

“I have lived here for 16 years since 1999. I have received a contract. I have not signed it,” said Gilmore.

Gilmore said she was initially offered $30,000 and then she told David Cox, housing officer, and Shawn Hershberger, executive director of the CEDC, that she owes two mortgage loans totaling in the mid $40,000 range.

“We negotiated and they agreed to pay $43,000. It all sounded good in the beginning,” said Gilmore.

However, the money they offered still left her roughly $2,000 short of paying off her debt on the home and nothing to start over again.

“It is too overwhelming. The way they approach people by coming to their houses and making these offers with these threats. They said If we couldn’t stay, it would come to eminent domain,” said Gilmore.

“If it didn’t involve people losing their houses I would say, ‘OK.’ But if you’re messing with peoples’ livelihood and their homes, then, no. It really upsets me. This whole ordeal has had me in tears. Especially having the feeling of not knowing what to do,” she said.

“I want to stand by the rest of my neighbors and just holdout until the city approaches us and tries to renegotiate. If it is not what we want, we will probably end up in court. I will stand with my neighbors. United we stand and united we fall,” said Gilmore.