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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Imhoff Eyes Return to City Hall

George Wenschhof

Alan Imhoff
Alan Imhoff likens himself as the unofficial ambassador of The City of Frederick.  He told me in an interview, that over the last 13 years, he has represented the city officially and unofficially across the state.

Alan, said the city is the envy of many with its unique blend of historic and new.  He added it is a great story to tell because the city is a great place to work and live.

I've known Alan for over sixteen years and he has always been involved in local politics and community issues. It seems when city elections comes around, he is often found running for office. 
A Republican who served one term as alderman, during the Jeff Holtzinger administration, he wants to return to city hall to contribute to future strategic planning that he believes is necessary for the city. 

He came in third in the Republican primary and acknowledged the Democrats have an overall stronger ticket.  However, he believes a Republican or two will be elected as alderman and hopes to be one of them because there is more he wishes to accomplish.

Alan cited the rank and review process initiated under the Holtzinger administration for annexations as one process he was proud to have helped institute. However, he pointed out the annexations that have taken place during the current Republican Randy McClement administration did not include any commercial development.  Alan believes residential/mixed used zoning should be balanced with commercial.

One important area Imhoff would like to see the city do is for the mayor and board develop a strategic plan that will help them prioritize capitol works projects to handle planned development. Similar to the rank and review process he helped initiate for annexations, he believes there is need to develop a process to determine city funding for improvements.

This would help the city in improving the overall quality of life for its residents by balancing new development with redevelopment needs, such as the “golden mile”.

He also wants city officials to “get out of Frederick” and see what other municipalities are doing around the country.  Alan spoke enthusiastically about the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia where a pedestrian mall has many shops and restaurants located in the historic buildings on and around old Main Street Charlottesville.

When I asked him how he felt about the city supporting the building of a downtown hotel/conference center, Alan said he felt it was premature.  He added he did not want the city building a parking deck just for them.

Alan also expressed concern with how Phase II of the Carroll Creek project would be developed, pointing out that it needed to generate foot traffic.  He had noticed the condominiums that were built on Phase I had not contributed to foot traffic along the creek. 

The city debt to the Other Post Employment Benefits Program (OPEB) and the pension is another area Alan wants the city to focus on.  He would like the new mayor and board to review all existing contracts with employees.  A total set amount of benefit dollars per employee is one way Alan has seen work effectively in the private sector and he would like the city to create a task force to review this as an option available to the city.

In regard to the low city voter turnout, Alan said he had long been a proponent to move the city election to coincide with the presidential election.  The change would save the city up to $120,000 and also put the polling locations back in the schools where voters are familiar with going to on Election Day.  He added nonpartisan elections did not improve voter turnout.

Alan also defended his support of the city purchasing the Hargett farm for use as a park, pointing out Baker Park was not built overnight and this was a long term project for the benefit of residents.

City registered voters will choose their mayor and five member board of alderman on November 5.

Stay tuned.
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