Commissioner Todd Morgan

Commissioner Todd Morgan

Residents of Rogers Drive in Lexington Park may not see a road extension in the neighborhood nearly three years after construction on the project began.

At their meeting on Tuesday, St. Mary’s County commissioners heard a request from the department of aging and human services to approve a second extension for a project which would extend Rogers Drive to Willows Road.

According to meeting documents, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development awarded St. Mary’s County $330,473 for the extension, which is identified as a crime reduction measure in the Lexington Park Master Plan. The award to St. Mary’s County required a nonprofit partner, and as such the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation is acting as the project contractor.

The extension on the grant is being requested because during construction a water pipe located too close to the ground’s surface broke. The Community Development Corporation made a written request to the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission to replace the pipe and, while they agreed to cover the cost for the pipe and materials in the revised amount of $78,050, the labor costs of $20,000 have yet to be identified.

Lori Jennings Harris, director of the department of aging and human services, told commissioners they received the initial grant to begin in December 2017. A grant extension was given from September 2019 to August 2020, and Harris said another next grant extension would allow work to continue through June 2021.

Major Micheal Merican, assistant sheriff, said at the meeting, “Commissioner [Todd] Morgan (R) approached me … to talk about this grant and public safety issues.” He said on one hand, a thoroughfare in a subdivision may reduce traffic collisions but it could also increase the amount of accidents as more pedestrians and bikers would likely frequent the road. The assistant sheriff mentioned the road is currently a dead end, which pedestrians and bikers can still use.

Commissioner John O’Connor (R) asked how the dead end could work for a crime reduction design, with Merican replying “if you open it up, it’s easier for people to go in and out and do their criminality versus if they were locked in.”

“Is Rogers Drive a high crime area?” Commissioner President Randy Guy (R) asked.

“I won’t consider it a high crime area,” Merican said, “but it’s one of our hotspots in the community.”

Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) asked if state money had already been used on the project and if the county would have to reimburse that money if they quit the project.

Harris confirmed the project has been paid for with only state money so far and the county would have to pay back $213,555 if they were to discontinue. Before making a decision, Morgan asked to defer for a couple of weeks “to do some more analysis” on money spent, costs, crime and other factors, which the other commissioners agreed to. The decision was scheduled to be discussed again at the Oct. 20 commissioners meeting.

Later in the meeting, the department of public works and transportation presented two option contracts for FDR Boulevard Phase 3A, to include Patuxent Baptist Church and a residential property.

“These are the two bracketing properties at Chancellor’s Run Road where FDR will go past the Elk’s Lodge … and connect with Pegg [Road],” John Deatrick, director of the department, said. “They are the only two properties we’re buying with some kind of structure on them.”

Deatrick said the cost of the church property is $150,000 and the cost of the residential property belonging to Gary Trevino costs $190,000.

“I think our costs are reasonable considering the value of the property and the fact that we’ve got three buildings that need to be dealt with,” he said, before commissioners agreed to approve the contract agreements.

Twitter: @MadisonSoMdNews

Twitter: @MadisonSoMdNews