During his first year as mayor of North Beach, Mark R. Frazer worked to help give his town a face lift.
Now, as he moves into the second year in office, Frazer is aiming to perform more advanced cosmetic surgery in his Chesapeake Bay community.
Earlier this month, the North Beach Town Council unanimously approved a $1.25 million project to improve roads and sidewalks west of Chesapeake Avenue. Town officials hope to pay for the work with a $250,000 federal Community Development Block Grant and borrow the rest.
And on Tuesday, Frazer appeared before the Calvert County Board of Commissioners to ask for funding for several major projects. The commissioners pledged support for one--a new senior center--and they're considering other Frazer requests, including rehabilitating the town's fishing pier.
"I feel it's important for us to be able to welcome the recreational boater to North Beach," Frazer said Thursday.
"Our economic well-being is going to be tied to tourism. This is one very important part of the Southern Maryland community that we need to attract," he said. "And this I hope will be coordinated with a very important beach replenishment."
Attracting tourists to North Beach has been at the heart of Frazer's refurbishing effort. One of the first major moves of his administration involved "the demolition of five or six eyesores"--for the most part abandoned buildings in the center of town--"which gave the visitors to North Beach the impression that we were a run-down and decaying small town," Frazer said.
Another big move involved cleaning up the town's waterfront, he said. The town established a beach patrol--individuals who would serve as "ambassadors to the town of North Beach," he said, from May through October, answering questions and making sure municipal ordinances were minded.
"The beachfront area had become an area where loitering and obnoxious behavior had at times reached a point where visitors were discouraged from coming to this part of town," Frazer said.
At the same time, Frazer and others worked to make sure there was a beach to be patrolled. Roughly $70,000 worth of sand--courtesy of the state--was trucked in last year to replenish beachfront washed away in storms, according to Frazer. If approved by the state, an additional $540,000 will be used to continue that effort and install stone breakwaters to help contain the restored beach, Frazer added.
The beachfront effort ties into two projects Frazer would like the county commissioners to help support. The town plans to allocate $10,000 toward the fishing pier rehabilitation, expected to cost a total of $200,000. Frazer hopes to receive $65,000 from the county, and the remainder from the state.
Frazer also hopes that the county will help with staffing costs at the new North Beach Welcome Center. It's not clear yet how much money is needed, although Frazer envisions the center being staffed seven days a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends in April, May, October and November.
The role Frazer envisions for the Welcome Center reflects his hope that the community be seen as the gateway to all of Calvert County.
"After discussions with the tourism director of the county and members of the tourism advisory committee for Calvert County," Frazer said, "it soon became apparent that there was a much larger role that this facility could fulfill . . . and that is being a visitor information center for the entire county, since this is one of the heavily visited tourist areas in Calvert."
CAPTION: General contractor Harry L. Taylor II, above, works on North Beach's new visitors center. One of the town's decorative 2000 banners can be seen through the front window of Nice and Fleazy Antiques, one of several shops that has helped draw more tourists to the town.