Decision expected on the proposals for former Carvel Hall redevelopment

City Council splits in vote, will try again Feb. 24

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CRISFIELD — The City Council — now with only four members — appears deadlocked on what to do next with Carvel Hall.

Three bidders submitted offers last fall to a request for proposals on purchasing and redeveloping the former cutlery manufacturing plant. At the Jan. 27 virtual city meeting Councilwoman Charlotte Scott with support of Vice President Eric Banks recommended giving the respondents two weeks to revisit and sweeten their applications.

Councilman Mike Atkins along with Councilman Jimmy Ford, however, would like additional proposals to see if there’s a better deal.

The resulting 2-2 tie meant no action on Ms. Scott’s motion. The council is down one member after Nelson Sheppard resigned at the start of the year to work for the city as code enforcer.

The proposals being considered are:

  • Element MD, to grow medical marijuana;
  • Main Street Investments LLC, to create a retail center for outlet stores, office and other small businesses; and
  • a submission by Crisfield resident Mary Franz, which the principals requested remain confidential.

“We have an opportunity to go back to the three applicants and ask them to resubmit their best and final offer,” Ms. Scott said. “We understand at least one of them would like to make a new offer.”

If her motion had passed, she wanted the revisions back by Feb. 10. Now the City Council will take up the issue again on Feb. 24.

City Solicitor Michael Sullivan said giving the three bidders “the same opportunity” to resubmit would not be out of line, but “best and final offer” was not necessarily the standard for an award of bid.

“We’re not talking about the highest bid per se, we’re talking about the best and most qualified bid,” he said, explaining that a bidder may have “qualitative aspects” that are not the highest in dollars and cents.

Dr. Atkins said he appreciated the effort to try and get a better deal for the city, but wanted it go a step further and reopen the RFP “not only for these three bidders, but additional bidders. Why not cast a net a bit wider?” he asked.

“Maybe we could come up with a bidder that really is a much better fit for Crisfield, that could benefit us in the long run.”

“This is about the future of Crisfield, this is about who we are as a town, about what we have to offer,” Dr. Atkins said, and Mr. Ford said that was his point of view as well.

Ms. Scott said in fairness to the respondents who expected a decision in December, they may be willing to increase their offers. With a tie vote, however, “the motion fails for lack of a majority,” Mr. Sullivan said.

In the RFP documents respondents were advised a contract for sale or lease would be awarded or rejected within 30 days of the Nov. 2 application deadline, but the RFP also asked that bids be valid for at least 90 days — which was Jan. 31.