I am a small-business owner in Charles County and have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so I understand economic development and its benefits to a community. However, when it comes to Hughesville, I have to speak out, not with my head, but with my heart.
My mother has lived in Hughesville all of her life. I have lived in Hughesville all of my life. My daughter has lived in Hughesville all of her life. That's more than 60 years of family history in Hughesville, our home. Hughesville belongs to us and all the families that have made their home there. I chose to raise my family there so we could all enjoy the rural community setting I grew up with. I remember when I was a child I could play softball in our front yard and not worry about hitting the ball across the road because there was so little traffic you could hear when a car was coming. Well, things have definitely changed since then.
Over the past few years, though it breaks my heart to think of leaving Hughesville behind, my family and I have had to contemplate moving because we saw no relief in sight to the traffic congestion that has grown close to unbearable and the dangers of being out on the road in the traffic. But good news came with the announcement that the bypass would be completed in the next two years. This good news was rather short-lived.
I am not going to use the politically correct arguments about why we shouldn't allow a baseball stadium and strip malls to be built in Hughesville. I'll leave that to others who know all the facts and figures behind the argument. I haven't done my homework in that department. My argument comes from the heart. Hughesville belongs to the families that live there. We didn't choose to live near a baseball stadium or strip malls. We chose the rural community setting. If we have to lose some of that setting to growth, it should be to new schools, community centers for children, cancer and transitional care centers, etc. -- growth that will be beneficial to our residents.
To the officials backing this stadium and strip mall, please build them down the street from your home or in your own back yard. Preserve Hughesville.
Ballpark a Boon for Elite
Charles County residents (and all Maryland taxpayers), are you ready for a reality check on the proposed funding and finances of a new stadium in Hughesville? While taxpayers fork over $12 million (with an additional $6 million to $8 million possible cost overrun looming because of land acquisition costs) with slim hopes of ever seeing a payback, Maryland Baseball LLC will see almost its entire $6 million initial investment in revenue from just 12 skyboxes.
Its Web site is pitching 12 at $25,000 per year with a 10-year commitment to the wealthy elite of the community. This and the additional revenue from food and beer sales in these 12 skyboxes will amount to more than $5 million. Ninety percent of this will go to Maryland Baseball LLC. And Brooks Robinson and the county commissioners are leading the charge!
The skybox holders will be treated to all sorts of "special events": trips to the dugout, discounts (how generous since 67 percent of the estimated construction costs are paid by you and me), while the poor taxpayer will be handed bond debt, the "cheap seats" and the distant parking spaces.
The Economic Development Commission, paid for by taxpayer dollars, explains how these corporate elites can "reward all the key people in your life. Clients, associates, prospective customers, 24 tickets to the Annual Fan Appreciation Picnic." I guess that we will have to pay for this privilege. This sounds like a legitimate business expense and a tax write-off to me. Guess what? The taxpayers get hosed again. While we fund the stadium debt, these elites get federal, state and local tax breaks for going to a ballgame.
Let me propose a very different view to those who want us to fork over our money for their gain. We should boycott all businesses that support this "white elephant" with skybox commitments and advertisers who purchase signage that makes Maryland Baseball LLC a ton of money while raiding our pockets.