BACKROOM DEALS: Proposal for restroom and parking along trail set to benefit Squad in the secret deal instead of a public proposal
BY KEN ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
HOLLYWOOD, MD. – A parcel of land, a bit more than eight acres in size, presently owned by the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad Inc, is being eyeballed by the Saint Mary’s County Commissioners for purchase that could provide the taxpayer-supported group with a windfall of over $200,000.
Hollywood Volunteer Rescue squad bought the land known as Lot 65, of the Twin Ponds subdivision, adjacent to Barbet Drive in Hollywood, from the Dean Partnership on February 24, 2016, for $397,000. The St. Mary’s Commissioners could pay as much as $600,000 for the land in a no-bid secret deal currently being considered behind closed doors.
According to the history of the squad, the land for the present Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad building was donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. Manning McKay.
Land records show that the gift of 1.59 acres of land changed hands from the McKay family to the Squad on January 23, 1981.
The groundbreaking and construction for the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad building took place in April 1982, and Elwood Joy built the Rescue Squad quarters.
Dean Partnership LLP was in a more generous mood or extracted concessions for its development as part of its transaction with the St. Mary’s Metropolitan Commission for the construction of a new water tower on December 21, 2011, when it passed ownership of a 7.6-acre parcel at no cost. The parcel was described in land records as Twin Ponds Subdivision Metcom Parcel A and is used as the site for a water tower. Dean Partnership is based in Kensington, Md., and the resident agent is Gregory A. Dean.
In 2020, the principal office of the Dean Partnership LLP was changed from 24471 Mervell Dean Road, Hollywood, Md., to the Montgomery County address, and the resident agent was changed from Franklin W. Dean to Gregory Dean.
Franklin “Frank” Dean developed the Twin Ponds subdivision, and with his brother Robert Dean and the two developed the Esperanza Farms subdivision and Esperanza shopping center. Frank Dean was a charter member of the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department and died in 2014 at 93. Frank Dean left his property in a trust administered by his son Gregory Dean, who sold the property to the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad.
The value of the land owned by the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad could be limited due to its access through the Twin Ponds subdivision, which the Planning Commission would likely fail to approve any commercial use. The frontage of the property on the dual lane Rt. 235 is also a limited access road, at least when it was first built, and access is restricted except for those who are politically connected.
For the value of the property on the market to soar in six years with constrictions on access as the commercial property may be a matter of speculation.
The exception, of course, is when a county commissioner is on a mission to enrich friends with public money and acts as an agent of the property owner. That was the case when the Hayden Farm was purchased by the St. Mary’s Board of Commissioners for the Duke Elementary School site and Leonardtown Library after a public hearing on Christmas Eve in 2008 to ensure that possible opponents might be busy frolicking with mistletoe and holly. The St. Mary’s Board of Commissioners spent $4,730,000 on April 30, 2009, for the Hayden Farm property, which was huckstered by St. Mary’s Commissioner Tommy Mattingly (D. Leonardtown, Hollywood).
Open up the process for the public to participate.
Property owners in the Hollywood area may want to propose the county purchase their property instead of the property presently owned by the Hollywood Rescue Squad, which apparently is content to keep their squad in its present location just north of the Hollywood Fire Department.
Property owners should ask the St. Mary’s Board of Commissioners to issue a ‘request for proposals‘ and indicate land size, location, and other details for the purposes intended in the backroom deal presently being proposed. The commissioners can make a public proposal that any landowner can participate instead of a secret deal.
Lexington Park banker and developer Robert F. “Gabe” Gabrelcik sold his property located on FDR Blvd. in Lexington Park to the Lexington Park Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Squad Inc. on June 18, 2007, for the sum of $168,665. The rescue squad built their new building on the parcel adjacent to the Lexington Park Library and Bay District Firehouse in 2014. On August 25, 2000, Gabrelcik donated the land for the new Lexington Park Library to the St. Mary’s County Commissioners, which erected the new building in 2002.
The former site of the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad on Great Mills Road was sold by the Squad to the St. Mary’s County Commissioners on July 11, 2014, for $450,000. The Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad purchased the property from Aldridge Enterprises Inc. on May 16, 1978, for $95,000. The St. Mary’s County Commissioners spent six million dollars for a new Sheriff’s building on the site which is mainly unused but does provide secure restrooms for deputies.
Development Status of Property
Water and sewer are planned for service to the property within three to five years. Current zoning is low- to medium-density residential in the Hollywood Development District.
St. Mary’s County Commissioner Mike Hewitt has allegedly proposed a slew of new spending projects, including the construction of a swimming pool and a YMCA in the Charlotte Hall area, where developers are increasing the pressure for a major population boom. Hewitt should include the public in his schemes to build public facilities.
No Public Input a Habit for St. Mary’s Board
With the inclusion of a $26 million Sheriff’s Palace in Leonardtown and the construction of a shopping center-size Pot Factory in Abell, both without any public hearings, the current Board of Commissioners appears to be on a mission to misuse the public funds without proper permission from the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for all of the extravagant proposals dreamed up in the Walled City of Leonardtown and to change the rural residential neighborhoods in the Critical Areas without any regard for the citizens who live in those areas.
On The Record
Commissioner President Randy Guy (R. Clements) did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed purchase of the Hollywood Rescue Squad property.
Commissioner John O’Connor (R. Mechanicsville) provided the following response:
“I have no intention of supporting these grandioso ideas being presented by Mike Hewitt. Especially with there being absolutely no public input at all. There also appears to be some Quid Pro Quo going on behalf of Mike Hewitt.”
Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R. Hollywood) was asked if he favors the purchase of the parcel of land from the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad. When he responds, this story will be updated to include his comment.
Commissioner Todd Morgan (R. Lexington Park) was asked to comment on the proposal and has of yet to provide a written response on the record.
An email request was sent to Commissioner Eric Colvin (R. Valley Lee), asking him to respond with his intention to support the proposed purchase of the parcel of land from the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad. When Commissioner Colvin provides a response, that comment will be updated to this story.
Political Donations to Commissioner Michael Hewitt
A campaign donation for $500 was made to the Friends of Mike Hewitt on June 23, 2022, and was listed from DMTU LLC, with an address of 44174 Airport Road, California, Maryland 20619. Lexington Park attorney Bill McKissick formed the DMTU LLC on Oct. 17, 2001, and the address was the same as that of Airtec, a firm owned by Steve Bildman, who built many of the aircraft hangers and other improvements at the county-owned airport over the past thirty years. The use of an LLC to make campaign donations is designed to shield from public view the identity of the person making contributions to politicians.
- S. Hunt Aero LLC $500, June 23, 2022.
- RCS Services LLC $500, June 23, 2022
- Julianne Snight, $200, June 23, 2022
- Barry Spencer, $250, June 23, 2022
- Dwane MacRae, $250, June 23, 2022
- Tom Hodges Auto Sales Inc, $200, June 23, 2022
- Nicholas Tsirgotis, $500, June 23, 2022
- Winters Sheet Metal, $250, June 23, 2022
- Laurel Creek LLC, $500, June 23, 2022
- Thomas Jarboe, $250, June 23, 2022
- Martin Fairclough, $500, June 23, 2022
- Blair Family Trust, $300, June 23, 2022
- Parlett associated firms and LLC’s $1800, June 2, 2022
- Maryland Realtors PAC, $2,000, May 18, 2022
- Rodney Gertz, Quality Built Homes, $1,000, May 20, 2022
- Citizens for Howard Thompson, $500, Chairman of Planning Commission and Seafarers School official.
- S. Hunt Aero LLC $2,500 Sept. 14, 2018
- Realtors PAC, $1,000 Sept. 27, 2018
- Laurel Creek LLC, $500, Oct. 20, 2018
- Laurel Creek LLC $500, Sept. 8, 2018
- Martin Fairclough, $275, Oct. 14, 2018
- Charles Carruth, $250, Sept. 8, 2018