Cumberland Times-News


April 9, 2014

City has changed, but it’s still a great place

Is it better to be positive or negative? I have been reading postings about Growing Up in Cumberland, other Facebook pages, and from many of my Facebook friends. Talk about food and many people have positive comments. I love Coney Island hot dogs as much as anyone and have some every time I am in Cumberland.

Talk about other subjects and many people are negative.

The population? Yes, it has declined. But there are still 125,000 people within the Cumberland metro area.

Jobs? Sure, the source of jobs has changed drastically since the 1950s and ’60s. Today there are new jobs in the tourism sector. There are new jobs being created by technological firms moving to the area. There is something people can do. But what are they doing other than complaining? Are they creating jobs? Are they doing something with their ideas? Why not?

I am creating jobs by investing in the region. Over the next five to six years I expect we will have 25 to 30 new jobs created. If some of my other plans are realized, that number could be more than 100.

Shopping? Sure the stores on Baltimore Street have changed. However, in the Cumberland area you can still buy everything you need for everyday living. And the downtown mall is and can be very exciting, but only if people want it to be.

Hospitals? I was born in the old Sacred Heart on Decatur Street. If there ever was a hospital that needed to be replaced, it was that building. Then the new Sacred Heart operated for about 40 years. I visited family members at Memorial Hospital and realized in the 1960s it was in need of repairs. Now there is a new, good-quality facility that can serve everyone in the area.

High schools? I attended Allegany, Mount Savage and Ridgeley. All of those buildings were outdated 50 years ago. Consolidation occurred when Frankfort replaced Ridgeley and Fort Ashby. That consolidation has worked. Mountain Ridge is doing a good job in place of several individual locations. Combining Allegany and Fort Hill makes good economic sense.

Crime? Yes, there is crime today. There was crime 25 years ago. And 50 years ago! My father owned a small business in 1959 and ’60 and was robbed three times. There will always be people who are willing to take something from other people without working.

Nothing for kids to do? When my father went to work, we had a list of things to be done. Only after that work was completed could we go swimming at Celanese Pool, or play sports, or do anything else. Our parents made sure we had things to do.

Why Cumberland? I have visited 49 of the 50 states, plus more than 50 countries. I have lived in 67 places for more than 30 days. I have visited many old and new cities. And I still want to come back to Cumberland. I still think it is one of the most beautiful places in this world. And I am putting my investments into the area; so far more than $500,000. I don’t just talk about it, I do it!

As you can see, I am positive. I have been lucky and had some good-paying jobs in the last 50 years. I still work every day. I still travel to deliver seminars in various countries. I keep buying new properties in the Cumberland area. And I will continue to do everything I can to provide below market rental properties to low-income families.

I think it is important people start being positive so we can all move forward and make the Cumberland area a better place to live and work.

Philip W. Smith

Moscow, Russia

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