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August 12, 2004

A Fitting Tribute for a City Watchdog

Alan Imhoff

For those of us who have been active in Frederick City, the recent passing of the "Watchdog of City Hall," a.k.a. Clagett Jones, comes at a time when more of his like are needed are needed in the world.

As a former vice chairman of the City of Planning Commission, serving more than five years, I had the opportunity to meet, talk with and - more importantly - listen to Clagett express not only his perspective, but the wishes of many of his fellow citizens on issues that would have a lasting affect on the city.

One of Clagett's deep-seated beliefs was the need for path system integrated into the fabric of all the neighborhoods of the city, especially those on the outer edges. I still have his hand-drawn sketch for the area in which he lived, the new northeast portion surrounding the MD 26/Monocacy Boulevard intersection.

Knowing full well that it might take decades in the bureaucratic and development pipeline to create such a pedestrian friendly system, Clagett was a tireless advocate to keep this idea before every elected or appointed official dealing with the growth of the city.

It was not his only belief, but it is one that I feel deserves a little more attention than has been given in the past. Why, you might ask?

With recent events at Fort Detrick that will make it one of the fastest growing and most intense employers in the city, the road system will be attracting a lot of attention from not only the city, but also the county and most importantly, the State Highway Administration.

As plans progress to help out Fort Detrick, the city has an unprecedented opportunity to tie the road improvements into an aggressive build out of proposed city path system to the north and east of the fort.

Imagine a pedestrian/bike path that would leave the Monocacy Village Shopping Center and 9th street and travel the old railroad right of way north to MD 26, cross over via a new bridge built during the construction of the new entrance ramp to US 15 (another product of Clagett's doggedness to represent his community) through Harmony Grove, go under a re-constructed Monocacy Boulevard for the new interchange with US 15 and end at the train station in Worman's Mill.

From there it would connect to the path system that follows Tuscarora Creek east through Worman's Mill then on to the Monocacy river trail system and west under US 15 just below Willow Road through the new developments around to Fort Detrick.

By creating this path system as plans are being drawn up for all these road improvements, not to mention new growth opportunities, we can honor one of Clagett's strongest attributes, the desire to have the best quality of life for the citizens of this city.

I would like to propose we honor Clagett by the formation of the Clagett Jones Northeast Path System and, if need be, continue on his legacy by becoming the next generation of "watchdogs".

Whether your interest in Parks and Recreation, riding and hiking trails, better roads, or watching the bottom line of the budget, I am sure Clagett would give his trademark grin as others take on the mantle.

Sure, times are tight and not everything can be done immediately, but with a little persistence, an unwavering belief in the basic good of the citizens, and an unfailing desire to do the right thing, perhaps five more Clagetts might show up at the next Planning Commission meeting or sit in on a mayor and board hearing. One from the northwest neighborhoods or one from the southeast, wherever they come from, at least the tradition can be carried on.

I cannot think of a more fitting tribute for a man who gave so tirelessly to his community.



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