Expect to see a lot of movement in Port Deposit in 2016.
All of that work is expected to lead up to a Turtle Drop as the town heads into next year.
The Maryland Map Turtle Refuge in Port Deposit, is a huge key to economic development in the river town. Mayor Wayne Tome Sr. said he anticipates this year will be a busy one as the town prepares to welcome in 2017 with a new attitude and the Turtle Drop next New Year's Eve to signify the new beginning.
"Public safety is always number one here, managing and monitoring everything," said Tome. The focus in Port will be to continue to limit the tractor trailer traffic in the downtown. "Because of the incidents we've had, we have to do that. A tractor trailer could clip a porch or damage a home. We're going to continue to stop that. But we'll still get our share (of truck traffic)," he said.
It will be harder for trucks to get around. The State Highway Administration has planned a drainage project in town and replacement of the bridge at Rock Run beginning this spring.
The mayor will also keep his eye on utility costs. The water rates are going up 50 percent over what residents currently pay this year. The water bills will also be sent out monthly. Water and sewer lines are also being relocated this year. Tome said he worries about the low income residents and the rate hikes.
"Here we have people with high incomes and really low incomes. We are very high with a census undercount and 50 percent of what we have are rentals. Some of the rentals hold two people and some are six people (that results in the undercount)," explained Tome.
Tome said for the most part he's happy with the police coverage provided to the town by way of a contract with the Cecil Sheriff's Office. "We will continue with them. To some extent, under Streight and Smithson (deputies) the oversight is much better. I'm still an advocate of community interface," said Tome. But he said once Bainbridge gets moving, the town will probably hire its own force.
"Within the last six months, things have gotten better with CCSO. We have a lot of engagement with them," said Tome.
When it comes to Bainbridge, the mayor is discouraged for now but hopeful for the future.
"The Tome School property has deteriorated due to arson which is disheartening. The federal government didn't want to embrace the value of that property and allowed it to deteriorate. We've run against that brick wall for ten plus years," he said.
Tome said he's hoping for a boom in the downtown business district. "We're looking for an infill of business on Main Street. We're really going to have a facelift here. The work will be ongoing on the bridge. The gas house (visitors center) will be renovated. The comfort station is coming. We are coming into a major renaissance. There will be literal shovels in the ground in 2016. It will be refreshing to see the final product," he said.
The Town is also expecting visitors in 2017. Water Witch Fire Company was among the first members in the State Fireman's Association. That means that the fire company will host the state in 2017.
"This year will be a year of work. 2017 will be a showcase of that work," added Tome.