For more that three decades the city of Frederick has been the poster child on a national level of its remarkable downtown urban renewal. Started as a way to prevent major flooding for its historic downtown in the late 1970s until March of 2020, this regional city has been an important role model for towns like Annapolis, Chestertown and Easton on ways to creatively bring a struggling business district back to life and commercial success.
But like every other town in America, Frederick’s master planners and government officials could never have envisioned the devastating effect the COVID-19 crisis would have on its core and way of life. And yet, perhaps stimulated by the pandemic, some of the same creative minds that reinvented their downtown are now hard at work at plans to recover the soul of Frederick’s historic district.
One of those leading the charge is Frederick’s mayor, Michael O’Connor. With his support, the city closed two major blocks in downtown to allow restaurants to expand space but also provide more ample social distancing space for visitors. And while Mayor O’Connor is not without critics for these dramatic changes, in his Spy interview he outlines the early signs of a success story that may encourage other communities to revisit the way citizens and visitors can use open space.
This video is approximately fourteen minutes in length. It is also available on podcast format here: