Season's Greetings! In many respects 2019 was an award winning, record-breaking year for Aberdeen! All around town new businesses opened while others expanded. Possibly the most notable addition was Upper Chesapeake Health’s acquisition of the former Merritt building to create a free standing Medical Treatment Center. Empty for years, Upper Chesapeake has already invested over a million dollars for an entrance/exit to eastbound Route 22. Click on https://www.umms.org/uch/community/your-health-our-mission for more info.
Other “newbies” to Aberdeen’s business roster include Starbucks, a UPS Distribution Center, Smoothie King, Lidl’s, Lily’s Attic, State Farm and AllState Insurances, and Labella Boutique. Eleven months into the year we’ve seen 26 new or expanded businesses; and names like Prost German Restaurant, AMI Industries, Horizon Theaters and the half-million square foot Aberdeen Logistics Center scheduled for 2020. Another barometer of economic activity, city building permits, saw over $27m in assessed valued issued in 2019 for new or renovated residential, commercial and industrial development! Aberdeen is on the Move!
This year, the City added a part-time Main Street Coordinator whose primary role is to spearhead downtown commercial and social development and activities. Her first order of business is bring home the coveted State of Maryland “Main Street” designation. The long awaited SHA renovation of West Bel Air Ave which just started, is also on the list. When done, West Bel Air users will have improved traffic flow, better pedestrian crossings along with benches, flower boxes and new streetlamps. Let’s not forget in 2019 we also saw the Post Office completed its long needed handicap ramp and exterior façade renovations.
This year downtown’s Festival Park area saw several new features added; the Aberdeen Library was renovated and a new mural greets Aberdeen Museum visitors. The Senior Center, reopened after storm damage, was converted to an all-aged Activity Center. Festival Park saw significant increases in use from Farmers Markets along with new activities like the “Junk in the Truck” flea market, food truck festival and Christmas Around the World. Main Street’s Coordinator and her volunteers have done a really good job portraying what downtown might look like by staging several empty windowfronts. The APD also focused on Main Street with its new downtown-based community liaison, and plans are to build an APG Discovery Center Preview Site as a step towards a future STEM oriented museum highlighting APG’s historical contributions to technology.
A highlight of 2019 was constructing the Middelton Road Extension, between Route 22 and Beards Hill Road. After 50 years of discussions and plans, the Extension opened this Fall and, in short fashion, has become extraordinarily popular with commuters. In a true public-private partnership, Middelton is stimulating opportunities for further development with the City acquiring 13+ acres of open space off West Bel Air Avenue as future site of the Aberdeen Activity Center.
$500k is earmarked in the County’s budget next year for design with over $8m identified in the next two fiscal years for construction and equipment. For years Aberdeen has loudly championed a County activity center comparable to those around the rest of Harford County; we trust this is the start. Here’s a few other “factoids” from 2019 reflecting the operational pace inside City Hall:
Yes, City Hall has been busy, but there’s a couple “biggie’s” few know about. Next year, we’ll be the second site of Mt. Christian Church’s Epicenter, a near 15k’ community center focusing on youth, life skills and health & wellness (http://epicenteratedgewood.com/about/) It promises to be one of the most extraordinary things that’s happened in Aberdeen in years. Also, late this year, as the Army’s contractor for water and sewer services at APG, we completed a long planned opening of an installation new water plant. At a cost of over $20m, this is yet another partnership milestone with our friends and warfighters at APG.
2020 is looking like we’ll have a continuation of the exciting things we saw in 2019, but then as now, none of it would be possible without the dedicated, professional services of nearly 200 men and women who make up “Team Aberdeen.” Public Service is one of the most honorable professions one could have, and we are thankful for the opportunity to serve you. On behalf of the Mayor, Council and our families and friends, we send our heartfelt blessings to you and yours for a joyous holiday season and a safe, successful 2020. Aberdeen is on the Move!