As the CEO of Compass Systems and the Chairman of the Lexington Park Business and Community Association, Mark Pinekenstein gets a unique perspective on the challenges facing St. Mary’s County’s development district, and he has a few thoughts on what needs to happen to ensure the Park continues to thrive in the coming decades.
“I think it’s important that we continue with the branding and identification of Lexington Park , both to bring attention that it exists as its own entity, not just part of the county, and to be able to have people identify with and have pride in living there,” Pinekenstein said. “To me this is the first step in mobilizing folks to action.”
The LPBCA took an important step toward branding the Park in August when it collaborated with several local businesses and SMECO to hang banners celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation on utility poles both in the 8th District and Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The banners features a new logo, commissioned by the LPBCA, to help establish the Park’s identity.
“It’s also important to put an emphasis on developing the Great Mills corridor. This includes incentives from the county, possibly re-zoning issues, blight control, signage, etc.,” Pinekenstein said. “The climate for development needs to be created.”
Part of that re-investment in the Great Mills corridor has already begun with the State Highway Administration’s long-awaited beautification project. There is also an effort underway by the county to update the Lexington Park Development District Master Plan. However, Pinekenstein warned that efforts to redevelop the Park’s older sections will require commitment and buy-in from local landowners and developers.
“I think that the landowners and developers really hold the key,” he said. “Without their support it will be difficult to plan and execute redevelopment.”
Pinekenstein noted that a new Park plan had several good anchor points from which to start.
“We need to leverage the positive aspects that exist in LP already – the new library, firehouse, proposed life-saving building, parks, green space, the air museum – to create a “town square” destination,” he said.
Getting the public to take ownership of a revitalization vision will also require a change of perception.
“We also need to change the perspective that Lexington Park solely consists of Great Mills Road and is the crime center of the county,” Pinekenstein said. “However, we do need to address the social issues that seem to exist only around Lexington Park.”
And making real changes to the Park may require making fundamental changes to how county government relates its economic engine. Pinekenstein said that maintaining the drive to revitalize the park could require a stronger executive presence in the county seat as well as revenue creation.
“Making significant changes in Lexington Park may require some changes in government or political will, taxes, etc.,” Pinekenstein said.