More citizen committees? Check.
A quarterly newsletter from the Town Council? Done.
Separate budget for capital improvements? In the works.
Meeting to discuss rush-hour congestion along state Routes 260 and 261? Later this month.
It's been about three weeks since Holler Associates released its town-financed study of growth in Chesapeake Beach, and already Mayor Gerald Donovan and council members are implementing several of the private consulting firm's suggestions. The study, engineered by former Calvert County administrator Dick Holler, showed that the town's population -- now nearly 4,000 -- will double in the next 15 years, forcing officials to think hard about managing growth and keeping communication lines open with their constituents.
"The maintenance of a small-town atmosphere" topped residents' priorities, and all 30 of those interviewed for the study griped about rush-hour traffic in the town. Concerns about negative effects from continued building created discord among residents, according to the study, while town officials "are worried most about potential losses of revenue and the limitations that can impose on the development of the town."
At recent public hearings, some homeowners have speculated that the mayor wants to transform Chesapeake Beach -- which already operates a $2.3 million water park -- into a resort town.
"What you have to look for is balance," Donovan said this week. "There is universal appeal to keep a small-town atmosphere. As far as the resort, that's in some people's imaginations. I don't see us as having enough to attract people here. We are what we are."
Donovan acknowledged a need for better communication between residents and town officials and said he hopes several new committees will change that. Residents will be given more opportunities to voice their opinions on landscaping, the bayfront park, traffic and other town issues, Donovan said.
He added that he hopes the town can strike a deal with county commissioners next week on improvements to Kellam Field, a ballpark where several youth sports teams play. An agreement to share costs would put an end to a months-old controversy that divided the town, county commissioners, Chesapeake Beach residents and environmentalists.
Ushering in a new way of conducting town business was the main message of the Holler study, said Councilman Pat "Irish" Mahoney. That means incorporating more residents into decision-making and improving the Chesapeake Beach Web site to include a reader-friendly budget and meeting schedules, he said.
"This town is changing from watermen and lifelong Calvert Countians to professionals who drive an hour or more in their commute," Mahoney said. "Holler is recommending we move into the next century with 21st century ways of doing business."