Culver, Day welcome governor to Downtown

Following a casual question-and-answer session at Headquarters Live on Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $1 million in funding for Salisbury’s Downtown revitalization project, plus $29 million for other projects in Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties.

Addressing an audience crowded into the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, Hogan, standing behind a podium and flanked by County Executive Bob Culver and Mayor Jake Day, said Downtown revitalization is “a terrific example of how state and local governments can work together with the private sector to make smart investments that spur redevelopment, economic growth, and job creation.”

The Hogan administration’s support for the city’s 20-year master plan “will help the city create a vibrant mixed-use urban center in the downtown and riverfront areas,” Hogan said.

Thirty-one new businesses have opened Downtown in less than three years and the state’s $1 million investment will “bring much-needed improvements to the area and spur redevelopment, economic growth, and job creation,” Hogan said.

The project is expected to create hundreds of jobs and new housing units, including those for Salisbury University graduate students, the governor said.

Hogan said the additional $29 million in his FY 2018 budget includes nearly $13 million for projects in Wicomico County, nearly $12 million for projects in Somerset and more than $3 million for those in Worcester.

They include construction at West Salisbury Elementary School and Parkside High School, improvements for the Smith Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, renovations at Wellington Wildlife Management Area, funding for Ocean City Beach Replenishment and hurricane protection and money for Atlantic General Hospital’s new cancer center.

The state will also fund the final phase of renovations at the Arthur Perdue Stadium.

And, Hogan said, the state will invest nearly $368 million for Lower Eastern Shore transportation projects,  including funding to finish the rehabilitation of the bridges in Pocomoke City, replace the Route 349 bridge over Windsor Creek, re-deck 11 bridges along the Route 50/13 Salisbury Bypass and upgrades to make Worcester Highway a four-lane, divided road.

“Being anywhere but Annapolis is great this time of year. There’s a little bit of crazy politics going on up there. I’d rather be here with you,” a smiling Hogan told those gathered at the Chamber.

“When I was sworn in as governor two years ago, I said that the War on the Shore is over and I meant what I said. I said we are going to spend more time on the Shore. I said the Shore was no longer going to be neglected in Annapolis, that you were going to have a seat at the table.

“That’s what I said we would do and we’re trying to do exactly what we said we would,” he said.

“I want to commend Mayor Day and Executive Culver and all of your elected officials and all of your state delegations who do a great job representing you in Annapolis. I want to thank all of them, and all for you, for bringing this important project to my attention,” he told the audience.

Downtown revitalization is “a terrific example of how state and local government can work together with the state and local sector to make smart investments” and create jobs, he said.

“We’re making tremendous progress. Together we are changing Maryland and the Eastern Shore for the better,” he said.

Day thanked Hogan and said local leaders are in awe of his leadership and bi-partisanship.

“I think we are all unfamiliar with this feeling on the Lower Shore, this feeling of the leader of our state here in our community telling us how important we are.

“It’s something I want to applaud. It’s something that’s fantastic. I think we want to recognize we have a partner, a partner and a participant in the growth of our community,” Day said.

“What’s changed about economic development is that talent is driving economic change, so young people, when they come out of great schools like SU, UMES and Wor-Wic, firms are following them.

“Right here we’ve got the red carpet getting rolled out and you can see the construction as it’s begun. You’ll have Maryland’s fastest Internet right there on Main Street and Division Street in Salisbury,” Day said.

Hogan, standing next to him, smiled and joked, “I may have to move.”

“We don’t have to be the capital of the Eastern Shore,” a beaming Day said.“We can be the new capital.”

Culver joked, “We’re so glad Salisbury decided to stay in Wicomico County.

“Perdue Stadium is a gold mine within Wicomico County,” Culver added.

“We have got one of several minor league teams here. Frank Perdue … had a dream and we have been able to keep it alive.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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