Over the past several years a number of serious threats to the revitalization effort in downtown Elkton have emerged. One of the biggest occurred in January 2008 when county government moved its administrative offices out to the Delaware State Line. This loss had a significant impact, which was noticed immediately by anyone paying attention. Suddenly nearly 200 county government workers and the hundreds of visitors to their offices were no longer parking on the streets, stopping in the eating establishments, or shopping in the stores.
We were surprised that the Alliance, as our Maryland Main Street program, didn’t get more involved in trying to turn that situation around. There was virtually nothing done (at least in public) by the Alliance. However, we do recall that the Mayor and Commissioners of Elkton met with the county commissioners to try to get them to change their mind. Considering the challenges already existing with downtown Elkton, we would have seen this as one of the biggest threats and pulled out all the stops to try to turn that situation around. It will be hard to overcome that economic loss.
Now there’s another threat that is being considered by the county. In early April, Pam Howard, the county treasurer, presented a plan to the county commissioners to have her workers take over the job of recording official documents. Presently the Clerk of the Court’s office in the courthouse on Main Street in downtown Elkton handles that work. The treasurer has noted that assuming this responsibility would require her to hire additional staff, which would probably mean a loss of positions in the court house on Main Street, since the function will no longer be handled there. Last year there were over 6,000 transactions handled of this type and this recordation process generates a lot of visitors to the courthouse.
We hope the Alliance is considering this impact and speaking up about the costs it will have for our Main Street. Each time we lose a cluster of desirable workers and visitors, it has a steep economic cost, which is hard to overcome these days. While this one isn’t as big as the move of the county offices, it is a continuing trend that has been going over for some time now. Soon our town center will be strictly that of a criminal justice center.