Sometimes, we as journalists adopt terms that could fall into the category of bureaucratese, defined as “a style of language held to be characteristic of bureaucrats and marked by abstractions, jargon, euphemisms and circumlocutions.”

Stakeholders is among such terminology gaining wide usage in recent years by politicians and reporters alike. The word is shorter by far than using “people who have an interest or concern” in something.

Naturally, many people are interested and concerned about Cumberland’s primary business district, known as the downtown mall and prominently identified by professionally produced and installed signs on several buildings as Historic City Center. The greatest concentration of businesses line Baltimore Street and adjoining thoroughfares. Long before shops and restaurants closed to stop the spread of COVID-19, merchants expressed concerns about panhandlers and other miscreants, lack of parking and other issues affecting commerce.

We have covered numerous meetings focusing on the mall, including plans to reopen a lane of Baltimore Street to vehicles, update wiring and other underground infrastructure and create a fresh, updated look. Members of the Downtown Development Commission have been discussing the hiring of a person to serve as manager of this retail zone, which also was designated by the Maryland State Arts Council in 2002 as an Arts & Entertainment District.

Besides the shops and eateries, the Allegany Arts Council’s headquarters and galleries are on North Centre Street. 

People flock downtown for special events like the Christmas tree lighting and New Year’s Eve festivities. We all have fond memories of Friday After Five. We just need someone to rekindle interest.

The manager’s position has been vacant since last fall, and DDC Chairwoman Sandi Saville recently said she’s received four applications.

She estimates it will be August at the earliest before someone is selected and gets started.

City officials have talked about where the new manager would work and who would be in charge of the eventual hire. 

The downtown manager has been supervised by the DDC in the past, but some stakeholders believe the Cumberland Economic Development Corp. should have input.

Beyond all that, we hope that a qualified applicant can be found, and that funding is available through the special downtown taxing district to pay that person a wage on which he or she can subsist.

Ours is an economically depressed area, but this is no time to go on the cheap. Closed or open to traffic, Baltimore Street is the heart of our city. We are convinced that a competitive salary would attract and motivate the new manager to work hard to produce the desired effect — a financially and culturally vibrant downtown.

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