approached with 11 topics of citizen concern, and we've compiled their responses for your consideration.
For more on the election, read here.
Below is their take on tourism in Havre de Grace, with incumbents listed first and challengers listed second, in alphabetical order:
Cullum has seen the tourism industry evolve during his four-plus decades in the city.
“We’ve come a very, very long way in tourism,” he said. “We have so many attractions for people here. We have so many museums and there are so many events going on. There’s so much for people to come to.”
Cullum said the city must continue promoting those things, because it is working.
“I go to a lot of places in the state and meet people from other places as part of the Maryland Municipal League. Everyone loves Havre de Grace,” Cullum said. “It didn’t used to be that way.”
Cullum would like to see some support from the local delegation to bring a hotel tax back to the area. The tax would help fund tourism efforts by the city and county.
“I think we could do even better if we could get our delegation to give us the hotel tax. All the other areas have that resource available for the promotion of their communities,” he said. “They don’t want to do that, and it’s really a bad situation.”
Martin said he continues to be blown away by the staff and volunteers with the tourism department.
“I’ve always been very impressed with it,” he said. “They come up with creative ideas.”
Martin said he heard recently only three municipalities in the state have tourism offices—Baltimore, Ocean City and Havre de Grace.
He said he’d love to see another event like the LPGA Championship, which called home for years. He’s also in support of expanding the scope of the city’s events and entertainment options.
“There may not be a lot of things for the young crowd. I get that. I would support any business that wanted to come in and do that,” he said. “That’s why tourism is so important for our town, because we have things here that other towns don’t.”
Miller said there are plenty of attractions in the city, the problem is with how they’re marketed.
He said the city’s tourism department and Main Street had a study done years ago to determine where advertising should be targeted, and if any new practices could be adopted.
He said most of the targeted audience should be “within a 75-mile radius of the city. A lot of people do day trips.”
Miller said another area for improvement is within the tourism website—which is going to be renovated.
He offered the suggestion to run offer a tiered directory which lists all the businesses in the city, and provides the opportunity to purchase expanded, enhanced listings—similar to Patch’s business directory.
He said only two antique shops are listed on the tourism site, versus six listed on North East’s site.
Miller wondered: “If you’re making your plans to spend your day somewhere, and you want to go antiquing, where are you going to head off to?
Glenn has always referred to Havre de Grace as a best kept secret in Maryland.
“I don’t believe it anymore. The word’s out,” Glenn said.
Glenn credited the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, and various volunteer groups in town for supplementing the city’s efforts.
But Glenn would like to see businesses be willing to cater to both the daytime travelers and nighttime shoppers from within town.
“I would like to see businesses change their store hours a little. Maybe noon until 9,” he said. “By the time I get home and get down there, they’re pretty much closed. Not every store owner has the luxury to do that, but I think if they consider that, it would be a plus for them.”
Sawyer said the city has done a nice job of providing necessary amenities, like the public bathroom at .
“That’s really kind of a nice touch,” he said. “Whatever we can do to make tourists feel welcome will enhance that.”
Still, Sawyer said there are some areas in downtown Havre de Grace that might need some improvement before tourism steps up.
“The restaurants are good, but they’re not knock-your-socks-off-good. There aren’t really any five-star restaurants,” he said. “When restaurants expand, sometimes the quality goes down. The same reason you want to keep the downtown area small is because it can be more of a boutique experience rather than you feel your just being harvested.”
Scharbrough said the focus should be on increasing foot traffic downtown by whatever means necessary.
“Offer some type of package through a local restaurant and a bed-and-breakfast for a long weekend where it would give out-of-towners a good amount of time to walk the city, learn the city, the waterfront, and there’s a lot of people that enjoy that type of history and we have a lot of it to offer,” he said. “That would be a great package offer with a special price for folks out of town to maybe save $50 rather than to book it individually.”
In terms of advertising, Scharbrough thinks the city could get a better bang for its buck.
“Target markets that are underserved through marketing and media print and get out to those markets that are based upon demographics that align themselves well with the Havre de Grace experience,” he said.
Scharbrough said he feels Havre de Grace is still undiscovered.
“To me, it’s a gem yet to be totally discovered. Its policed, but it needs to be polished a little more an enhanced a little more,” he said. “When you look at the natural surroundings, the waterfront, the access to the city, it’s not a hard sell to recommend to my friends to go and enjoy themselves.”
Smith said tourism should continue with what it’s been doing, but expand its focus to the night-time crowd.
“Pull people up from Bel Air or White Marsh. Make it a destination for people to come to for entertainment,” he said.
He said planning for large, one-time group visits—such as this summer’s return of the regional cruise ship—is crucial.
“What do we have for them to do while they’re here? We don’t want 100, 200 people downtown overwhelming downtown businesses,” he said.
His most passionate stance was in regard to the annual New Year’s Eve Duck Drop.
“Why in the world is the duck drop at the school and not downtown?,” Smith asked.
He recommended the city look into creating a three-dimensional duck, involving the local businesses district in a larger, night-long event and look to draw in regional crowds and national media attention.
For more on the election, read here.
The Havre de Grace Election will be held May 8 at the Hall on Pennington Avenue.