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Lexington Park Retailers Not Feeling Downturn

Local department stores reported no downturn of customers with the government shutdown and even a “slight uptick” at news that back pay would be forthcoming to workers shut out of their jobs.

penney'sThis report came from a survey of local department stores conducted by Robin Finnacom, acting director of economic development for St. Mary’s County. In addition to chain stores such as Belks, Penney’s, and Dick’s, Ms. Finnacom received the same report from locally owned Blairs.

This trend will only be helped by the holiday hiring anticipated by all of the retailers she spoke with, Ms. Finnacom told the Lexington Park Business and Community Association.

Accommodations, however, “are taking it on the chin,” she said, which was confirmed by a local hotel manager at the association’s meeting last week.

The accommodations industry locally reports cancellations which began prior to the summer’s furlough. A second quarter pick-up failed to hold and is now further compounded with a drop of $4 in the government’s overnight per diem rate, which fell from $102 a night to $98, the manager told the association.

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Lexington Park Re-Discovered

For a return engagement, PNC Bank teamed up with the Lexington Park civic association to bring a street fair of local businesses and eateries to Freedom Park in Lexington Park, Maryland last month.

The impetus for an evening street festival in Lexington Park came a year ago at the prodding of Yaling Pan, co-owner of the Mixing Bowl, as a way to fight the misconception she heard expressed by her lunch-time customers that Lexington Park was unsafe in the evening.Image

PNC Bank picked up the challenge and again this year PNC’s Barbara Saylor led the effort.

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Weekend Gate 2 Closure Prompts Business Concerns

Lexington Park business owners continued to protest the weekend closing of Gate 2 at the July meeting of the Lexington Park Business and Community Association (LPBCA).

Capt. Ben Shevchuk, Naval Air Station Patuxent River Commanding Officer, had announced the decision shortly before closing the base’s original main gate at the end of Great Mills Road during the overnight hours and on weekends beginning June 19.

The outcry from the impacted business community is supported by the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions of St. Mary’s County. A letter from the Unified Committee to Capt. Shevchuk was distributed at the LPBCA meeting. The letter states, in part, “Business owners and community partners have been working hard to revitalize Lexington Park . . . Closing the gate on weekends means that patrons from the base going in and coming out would use the first gate which is more accessible to shops and restaurants outside of Lexington Park proper.”

Businesses in the core of Lexington Park see this as a second hit.

Starting last October, Gate 3 at Route 712 has been closed during the lunch hour. Restaurants and services in the center of Lexington Park suffered an immediate loss of business. One restaurant owner explained that a quick trip to her restaurant now took base workers too long to navigate with more vehicles using Gate 2 and the new traffic patterns that resulted. Patrons could no longer reach the restaurant, eat lunch, and make it back to their desks during their allotted break.

These logistical changes result in a noon-hour traffic congestion of up to three blocks deep lining Great Mills Road into Gate 2.  Instead of spotlighting the businesses along the corridor, the closing of Gate 3 during the day has made it more difficult to reach them.

The closing of Gate 2 during the weekends further exacerbates the heaviest burden Lexington Park businesses face, which is competition from big box stores and chain restaurants north of the base along Route 235. Gate 1, as the letter from the UCAC indicates, bypasses the entirety of the core of Lexington Park.

This core is at the heart of the Lexington Park revitalization efforts. The business and community association officers encouraged attendees at last week’s meeting to write to the CO of NAS:Pax River asking for a reversal of the weekend closures.

Some attendees worked on base and spoke of the security and fiscal demands that drove the recent gate closure decisions. The reduction in gate hours reflects the overall belt tightening being endured by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington, as the Navy shifts its financial resources from domestic bases to fleet operations in advance of expected defense cuts, Capt. Shevchuk explained when announcing the Gate 2 decision. Additionally, Gate 1 is logistically and technically better equipped to handle ever tightening security measures.

President of the Lexington Park Business and Community Association, Mark Pinekenstein, acknowledged the importance and legitimacy of these concerns. He also said he was aware that funding for upgraded security technology at Gate 2 was held up with current funding obstacles. But keeping it open on weekends in the meantime, he suggested, wouldn’t be too huge a security threat.

Robin Finnacom, CEO of the county Community Development Corporation, added that keeping Lexington Park attractive and economically stable was in the longterm interest of the Navy and mandatory for the future well-being and financial health of St. Mary’s County.

Source: www.LexLeader.NET

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Sheriff Station Slated for Lexington Park

sheriff badge

A coalition of governments and agencies succeeded in launching building plans for a St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s station on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park.

“Not a substation,” Robin Finnacom, president and CEO of the Community Development Corporation (CDC) told the Lexington Park Business and Community Association (LPBCA) at their April meeting

The CDC initiated the discussion that resulted in plans to purchase and convert the current Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad building into a fully equipped sheriff’s station.

The final piece fell into place when Del. John Bohanan secured a $125,000 bond bill to help st. Mary’s County government renovate the building into a police station with three holding cells and capable of gathering and safekeeping evidence.

The full funding is slated to appear across three fiscal years in St. Mary’s County’s capital budget. as a $2.4 million line item in  for acquisition, engineering, planning and then construction across the next three fiscal years.

Ms. Finnacom noted that the county’s budget hearings slated for April 30 will include the first of the proposed appropriations. The state bond issue is anticipated to be used for furniture and equipment.

Construction is slated to begin in fiscal year 2016 which begins July 1, 2015.

This dovetails with this year’s planned start of construction of a new rescue squad building. The new building sited on the new block of FDR Boulevard between Great Mills Road and the Lexington Park.

The need for a police station in Lexington Park has been long  discussed. The likelihood  improved recently when county government funded the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office for an additional four deputies to ultimately provide full-time community policing activities in Lexington Park.

This does not equate to a 24-hour a day staffing off Lexington Park police station cautioned community police officers attending the LPBCA meeting, given the coordination of shifts across the entire county. However, they said, the additions will significantly increase the law enforcement patrolling in the area.  And the future full-capacity station will significantly increase the immediate capabilities  available to Lexington Park law enforcement efforts.

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Here Comes the Parade

Door to door, Lexington Park Parade Committee members spread the word in the South Essex neighborhood that the parade was returning this year, closing the single access road to the neighborhood for less than an hour May 4.

Residents of Queen Anne Apartments are also receiving notices; their entry onto GreatPride in the Park Parade 2013 crop Mills Road will  be closed for the 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. parade. Emergency vehicles will of course receive access if required, stated Robin Finnacom, president of the Community Development Corporation which supports the business association efforts.

Here Ms. Finnacom wraps up her recent tour of the neighborhood with a fan of flyers inviting everyone to the parade. She reports a near universal positive response from South Essex residents, many thanking her for the advance notice.

The parade this year commemorates the 70th anniversary of the commissioning of the Naval Air Station: Patuxent River.

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Comfort Inn to Sponser Pride in the Park Parade Float

Comfort Inn & Suites has announced that it will sponsor the first float of the Lexington Park Business and Community Association‘s second annual Pride in the Park Parade.

The parade is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. The parade route will wind down South Shangri-La Drive to South Essex Drive to Great Mills Road. For more information, call 301-863-7700.

Pride in the Park Parade 2013

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A Block of FDR Opens New Space in an Old Town

What’s the Grand Ole Opry to Nashville? What’s the Arch to St. Louis? What’s a block of FDR Boulevard to Lexington Park? They’re the keys to their cities; they’re just the ticket; and they’re what we make of them.

Excuse the hyperbole, comparing gateways to the west and great music of the ages to a one-block of asphalt linking a retail district a bit down at its heels and a public library. But believe this: the proportional impact can be just as large.

The block of FDR Boulevard slated for construction this summer extends the road along the back of Millison Plaza across Great Mills Road (making a full intersection there) and connecting to the road between the Lexington Park library and Bay District Volunteer Fire Department. When all of the pieces are connected, FDR Boulevard will run from Shangri La Drive at the library to Route 235 at Ledo’s.

It has taken more than 50 years for this block of asphalt to move from a public transportation plan to the bulldozers and trucks parked there today. It is the most obvious and sensible segment of the crazy-quilt FDR Boulevard has become. This block will create a brand new space in an old town. This doesn’t happen very often.

A new building for Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad is slated for this new block, creating an informal campus of three top-drawer community service organizations: the rescue squad, fire department and library.

This new space in an old town expands positive, daytime and nighttime activity already drawing citizens of all ages and spheres, professional and recreational, from the immediate neighborhood and the region.

Let’s repeat. This doesn’t happen very often.

Bay District Volunteer Fire Department not only provides vital life and property services. BDVFD maintains a heavily used community center at FDR Boulevard and Shangri La Drive. It hosts its own festivals on behalf of the neighborhood and carries its mission of fire and household safety education into the community at large. The facility is used by organizations throughout the region for their own holiday festivals, community seminars, banquets and service projects – all of which bring people into Lexington Park.

The Lexington Park Library does a brilliant job providing virtually the only day-time activity resource for seniors, children, families, job searchers, the disabled and the disenfranchised. It houses the St. Mary’s County Literacy Council, provides meeting rooms and Internet access. The array of services are well beyond lending books and media, are offered free of charge and provided with unfailing courtesy.

Making access easier and more attractive to this service center opens opportunities for small shops along brand new road frontage, some making visible the backs of existing commercial buildings needing tenants. It makes possible the small shopping nooks other redeveloping cities and towns tuck into corners off their main roads.

Already adjunct alleys and parking lots to this future block of FDR Boulevard have staged a Lexington Park parade. The Lexington Park Business and Community Association will use the space again May 4, 2013 to organize this year’s annual parade. These are the seeds of urban festivals, already gaining participation at Freedom Park just around the corner.

There are very good traffic and retail reasons why this single block of asphalt is important to Lexington Park. There are safety and policing reasons as well. We cheer all agencies genuinely pushing to actually get this done by fall.

This is the stuff of genuine community renewal. Scouring a bit of the blight off, polishing up what you find that’s good. Purging what you can of the rest. This isn’t the tearing down part. This is the building up part.

A single block of asphalt could be the gateway to an enriched future for all of us in and around Lexington Park. It can open a venue for our own Grand Ole Opry and more. This is a brand new space, available for as much as our imaginations can conceive. This can be a key to unlock a new  future, just the ticket to renew our town. This block could be absolutely everything we imagine it to be.

It’s entirely up to us.

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FDR Boulevard Construction Commences

The construction of FDR Boulevard between Great Mills Road and South Shangri-La Drive is finally underway.

The trucks and tractors you see  between Executive Salon Suites and St. Mary’s Lighting are under contract to the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (MetCom). MetCom is replacing the 50-plus-year-old sewer line with a larger pipe and also installing a water line to serve the future site of the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad near the library. This portion of the work is expected to be completed in early May.

St. Mary’s County awarded Great Mills Trading Post the contract to complete the road’s construction. If MetCom’s work is finished on time, then the FDR Boulevard road, sidewalk, bike path and landscaping and decorative lighting construction project will be underway by the end of May and completed sometime this fall.

And, not to be ignored, Great Mills Road is getting another face lift!  The State Highway Administration will resurface Route 246 from St. Mary’s Square all the way to Route 5. Work includes milling, resurfacing and re-striping all through travel lanes as well as the Route 237 (Chancellor’s Run Road) tie-in with Route 246.

This work will take place at night, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Thursday.  During these hours, a lane closure and flagging operation may be used to guide motorists through the work zone.

Eighteen thousand vehicles travel on this important stretch of MD 246 each day. Let’s keep working together to improve Lexington Park!

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Pride in the Park Parade Coming May 4

The Lexington Park Business and Community Association will host a parade on Saturday, May 4 to celebrate the community’s historic partnership with the Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Pax River was commissioned in 1943. April 1 marks the 70th year since the opening of the installation. During the past seven decades, St. Mary’s County and Pax River have moved in lockstep toward an ever brightening future for our community.  This year, we take a moment to recognize the significance of this relationship.

We hope that you will join us in celebrating the 70-year partnership between the U. S. Navy and the Lexington Park community by entering a group to participate in the second annual Pride in the Park Parade.

The parade will start promptly at 10 a.m., leaving from the parking lot of the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department, located on South Shangri-La Drive in Lexington Park. The route will follow Shangri-La to South Essex to Great Mills Road and then back to the Fire Department via the alley near Raley’s Home Furnishings.

The Navy’s partnership with Lexington Park is the envy of the armed services. We now strive to ensure that the annual parade is equally successful. We hope that you will join us to make this event the pinnacle of Pax River’s 70th year celebration. Click here for an entry form. For more information about the parade, please feel free to contact Robin Finnacom at 301-863-7700 or robin.finnacom@stmarysmd.com.

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Medical Services Building Slated for Lexington Park

Lex Park Google MapWhile financial uncertainty threatens the economy at the Pax River end of Great Mills Road, economic reports from the southern end are good and getting better.

At the very least they’re getting healthier.

These were the messages that headlined this month’s Lexington Park Business and Community Association’s meeting, held last week at Bay District Social Hall. The first message reflects the community’s frustrated wait for federal budget decisions. The second suggests another frustrating wait may be nearing its end.

Cherry Cove development will begin a revitalization effort potentially impacting nearly 90 acres at the intersection of Great Mills Road and Chancellors Run Road. The first piece, the East Run Health Care Center Building, is slated for the corner where Cherry Cove is now located. This first building launches construction of a commercial medical complex of a scale able to both draw needed services to the area and provide employment opportunities in the area.

Drawing private investment for commercial redevelopment on any scale is an economic success story for any community. Cherry Cove’s plan for a commercial complex to serve medical and family core services is  a significant success for St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation which is charged with revitalizing Lexington Park.

Cherry Cove is one of the most visible renewal partners the unincorporated Lexington Park has had in its efforts to return a more vibrant economy to the Great Mills Road corridor. The initial portion of this project dovetails with a significant State of Maryland grant to Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital. The grant will bring a wide range of health and family services and programs into the Lexington Park area.

The health grant applies only to programming. The Cherry Cove project is privately financed.

Cherry Cove’s long-term vision for the full property extends out more than 20 years. Planning for the residential component is not set to begin before 2020. Ultimately the land across from Great Mills High School and the county’s public swimming pull will be encompassed in the full revitalization vision. Workforce housing, both single family and multi-family structures will transition the more than 700 homes now existing on the full acreage.