- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
From a redevelopment standpoint, it sounds like just the prescription for the bedraggled lower section of Great Mills Road.
There would be a medical complex with an urgent care center, offices for physicians, a mental health center and perhaps a pharmacy, all focused on a Lexington Park area underserved by health-care facilities.
There would be 127 single-family homes and 500 apartments in two five-story buildings on the 79-acre site, adding to the housing stock in the Lexington Park area. All this across the street from Great Mills High School.
This project, called East Run, would replace Lord Calvert Mobile Home Park, the largest trailer park remaining in St. Mary’s County. There will never be a larger one. County zoning rules prohibit new mobile home parks.
And so the question becomes, what will happen to the people who live at Lord Calvert, who own their own trailers and rent a pad for $550 a month? There are a diminishing number of places these homeowners will be able to find to park their trailers.
The CEO of Cherry Cove, which would redevelop the property it already owns, says there would be relocation assistance for about 240 families living in mobile homes, some of whom have been at Lord Calvert for many years. Some of them will have the chance to buy the homes or rent the apartments that would be built on the site.
In truth, there is no great urgency for these people to pack up and move out. It would be at least 18 months before anyone is relocated, and residents in the newest section of Lord Calvert would not have to move for five to eight years if the project moves ahead.
That is not a sure thing. East Run is more than an idea but less than a done deal. Whether or not the $93 million private investment goes forward depends on whether it proves economically viable, and the first obstacle to that is looming right now.
It is the fiscal cliff, that combination of tax hikes and drastic cuts in federal spending that could be due to kick in Jan 1. By some accounts this could push the country into another recession unless Congress and the president come up with a more sensible budget and deficit reduction plan.
That’s why East Run, and many other projects throughout the nation, that are poised to go forward could be scuttled. St. Mary’s depends heavily on federal spending for its economic survival and so has plenty at stake.
If the project does go forward, it may be the biggest resettlement program since Lexington Manor, known as the Flattops, was leveled after the property was bought by the government to protect Patuxent River Naval Air Station from encroachment.
This time, though, the property would not be left vacant and if fully developed would add 627 new homes to Lexington Park.
As East Run moves forward though, if it does, it will be important to remember that as the number of trailer parks dwindles, people working in the service economy that supports the area’s high-tech workforce need a place to live.