He also discussed his re-election campaign for Mayor.
Frederick, MD (KB) Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor joined WFMD’s Morning News Express to discuss asbestos scare in City Hall after the building experienced water damage.
“They saw a tile material that they were concerned about and so out of an abundance of caution, they stopped work,” explained O’Connor after talking about the building’s recent water damage. Environmental testing took place and it was determined the materials did not contain asbestos.
O’Connor continued: “The issue with asbestos is not that it’s there, it’s whether or not it’s exposed and putting off particles. If it’s contained, which, even if this had been asbestos in this tile on the floor, it was contained within the sub-floor that was on top from the carpet so it wouldn’t be an issue.”
City Hall reopened to employees and the general public on Monday, July 26th.
The Mayor also discussed changes to the downtown area to accommodate local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the periodic shut-downs of Market Street that we have done now, this summer, the fourth Saturday, has been a nice addition to downtown,” he said. “There’s a lot that would have to go into creating a more permanent, fixed schedule for those kinds of things.”
O’Connor said the Downtown Street-scape Study will help create a schedule that works for all residents.
“We have to remember that downtown we’re accommodating people who live there 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, we have offices that only operate from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon, and then you have the weekend and nighttime economy that serves our residents but visitors as well,” he explained. “Those are three distinct groups with different needs and our downtown has to work for all of them.”
There is also the issue of habitual vacant properties in the downtown Frederick area. Mayor O’Connor discussed what he’s doing to tackle this.
“We’ve done two things in the last couple of years relative to vacant properties in the City of Frederick — first is to make habitual vacancy a blighted condition. What that allows us to do is to use some additional tools that we’ve got available when a property is blighted to take action,” said O’Connor.
He said the idea is to create incentives for property owners who sit on vacant properties.
“The other thing that we did was create a vacant property registry. By December 1st of this year, properties that have been vacant for a year are required to register. Eventually there will be a fee associated with registering,” he said.
O’Connor said if a property stays vacant for more than four years, the property taxes will increase.
Additionally, the City of Frederick will be holding elections for mayor later this year. O’Connor talked about why he thinks he should be re-elected as Mayor, as he said he has “hit the mark.”
“We have demonstrated a kind of steady, respectful, ethical leadership that I think is what this city deserves. It’s what I wanted when I ran and it’s unquestionable that Frederick is a better place today than it was four years ago,” said O’Connor.
The Mayoral General Election will be held on November 2nd, 2021.