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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Small Town American Dream

Crisfield is struggling to pick itself up from the economic downturn

Coming into Crisfield, a small town on the eastern seaboard of Maryland, the first sight is of a deserted main street with empty storefronts on either side.

Driving further into town, I see rows of foreclosure signs hanging in front of derelict houses - many people have been unable to keep up with their repayments.

After driving three hours from Washington DC, we are hungry - but unable to find a restaurant to eat in. The ones that we see on the web are no longer open for business. The closest thing to a place to eat is a store selling raw seafood. The clerk cooks some for us and allows us to sit in the corner to eat.

A short drive through the town centre and we reach the harbour. The frozen sheets of ice on the water mirror the economic deep freeze that small towns like this have endured since the big banks in New York dragged the US into recession five years ago.

But the people I meet don't blame the bankers - a popular pastime at dinner parties in the capital. Instead, the mayor of Crisfield, PJ Purnell, says: "There's a joke that we tell around here - if there's a Depression it'd take us ten years to see it because we've been depressed for so long."

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36 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a shame, Crisfield was a nice small busy town at one time. The watermen were bringing in there catch and processing it right there, then "big brother" decided to HELP! No more processors! restaurant's served some of the best seafood...

Anonymous said...

That is what happens when you close out progress.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Crisfield is hurting but the author of this article paints a much poorer and dishonest picture than reality. No place to eat?? How about Circle Inn or Watermans inn or Side Streets or Gordon's or any number of carry out pizza shops and Chinese. No businesses? How about Crustacean station, weathered porch, two florists, a beautiful marina thriving in the summer months. How about Sherwin Williams who expanded their operations here three years ago. There are so many more examples of businesses trying to make a difference in Crisfield. I think it's great that Crisfield can get some national press but it would have been better if she actually been a bit more truthful in her description of the town. And maybe not have visited in the middle of a frozen winter day. I for one have not given up hope and I know many others share my hope for this beautiful little town.

JoeAlbero said...

8:28, Crisfield IS a beautiful little town. The potential there is incredible. We need a Water Park in-between Salisbury and Crisfield and I mean a big one. I'd love to see a really nice Campground out there too. So much potential.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Ferry project that connected to the western shore? Who dropped the ball on that one? They spent millions "studying" it, over more than 5 years.

JoeAlbero said...

8:31, If I recall properly, it was something like $48.00 each way and it got shot down. It's a shame because I know a lot of people would have used it weekly.

Anonymous said...

Cape May Lewes ferry is more than that. so?.....

Anonymous said...

Lewes Ferry is $44 one way, and prices vary peak/off peak.
Someone dropped the ball on that one.
Based solely on media coverage, it seems Crisfield wants nothing more than government hand outs. You never see them (community or politicians) making an effort to move forward. All you hear on the news is that they want (expect) more money from the government.

Anonymous said...

8:46. You nailed it when you said "based solely on media coverage". Spend some real time in our little town and you will meet many hard working folks who organize local events and continually strive to bring visitors and businesses to this town. Check out Crisfield schedule of events for the year. No government handouts.. Just hardworking businesses and volunteers making it happen.

Anonymous said...

The demise of chrisfield was the Welfare Crowd and putting the PROJECTS on waterfront property.

Anonymous said...

Joe is right! The potential is staggering. I was inside the town hall several years ago. When the economy was collapsing. There were a group of investors who were willing to invest millions and millions to create a "boardwalk" type atmosphere on the water. Rides and shops, etc. on the marina. DNR doesn't want the marina and the City of Crisfield cant afford it. It was all ready to go...then came the new politicians. A group of people who convinced the older locals that their properties would increase in value and subsequently their taxes would go so high they would never be able to afford to live there. Instead of embracing the change - which would have brought thousands of jobs to the city and increased revenues - they fought it. The new politicians convinced the older locals that they would preserve their way of life. That they would bring new jobs to the area without turning it into a resort....and they failed. Oh yes....the older locals still pay low taxes but the younger generation has no reason to stay. There are no real jobs. The section 8 housing continues to create problems for a beleaguered police department which had to call an abandoned bank "home" after a storm destroyed their rundown station which was little more than a metal pole barn. The drugs are running as rampant as the unemployment rate. If it weren't for the money brought in by the illicit drug trade, Crisfield would completely dry up. Folks, the only thing constant in life is change. Change (and not the Obama type) is needed in Crisield. A change in mindset. This change can be channeled into positive growth for Crisfield and her people, Somerset County, and the Eastern Shore generally. Or you can retain a lifestyle of generations gone by and watch Crisfield become just another ghost town in the annals of the Eastern Shore. But it's whatever.

Anonymous said...

Seriously??? Christfield has potential?? Don't think so; the towns infastructure is maxed out, rising sea water will render the it a worthless and uninhabitable within the next 30 years. A water park?? No one would invest in building a water park with an ocean less than 15 miles away. Really dumb idea.

JoeAlbero said...

8:59, Gotta love the Liberal way of thinking, eh Folks.

Tell us, what business have you ever owned or run? I have had many and ALL of them made incredible profits. So don't even think of challenging me.

I'll bet when they put in Bush Gardens so far away from Virginia Beach they said the same thing, (Liberals, that is). How about Kings Dominion. How far away is that from civilization???

YOU are the clueless one 8:59. "Build it and they will come".

The Eastern Shore is so loaded with wanna be politicians who are old names, friends of friends and so forth, they have NO business experience, yet they think they know what's best for the Shore.

Well, I'd agree IF the taxes were dirt cheap and they weren't trying to spend your money like we are Rockville and so forth.

Open your eyes, We do NOT have a Washington, D.C. here on the Shore. In order to survive we'll need to create a master plan for the entire Shore and not just one County.

Let me say this. What's being built here on the Shore over the past TEN years. AFFORDABLE, SECTION 8 HOUSING! How was your winter heating bills this year people?

You Liberals better start listening to me or you'll ALL end up in poverty.

Anonymous said...

The author of the story was from DC. Consider the source. If I had my choice between living in the DC jungle or Crisfield, I would pick Crisfield every time. Another way to put it is imagine walking down the street at midnight in Crisfield. Now imagine walking down the street at midnight in the DC hood. Crisfield has some hope of improving. With DC being one of the most liberal places on earth, what hope do they have? Also the story had the typical liberal slant only giving the readers partial truths to fit the liberal's world view.

Anonymous said...

8:59

Perhaps if The Eastern Shore did not have Maryland's only Republican Congressman thanks to O'Malley's Gerrymandering some of that equality would come to Somerset County.

Thanks too- to Obama's blatant ignorance which can be proven with his making Crisfield jump through hoops after Sandy waiting months while he and O'Malley directed their efforts to paying out Federal Workers second and third homes before anyone who sustained real damage.

Maybe Equality would mean more to you than some lame cliche as a trump speech the night after a couple of million dollar State dinner for the French Socialist leader who George Soros also fixed the election to get elected.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Bay fund goes to debutantes and their families living around Annapolis. Crisfield could use an office staffed with 6 figure do nothing activists.
Well maybe not they might not want that kind trashing their town

Anonymous said...

The good ole eastern shore crowd have Killed there OWN state good work ole boys keep up the shit work tick tock.

Anonymous said...

Omalley is a Traitor to the eastern shore so is our Gayor Ireton.

Anonymous said...

8:57 I agree. Crisfield is a small town with a small town mindset and until that changes, they will remain ... challenged.

I respect 8:51's opinion but in order to bring about real change you need more than a few festivals. I do not doubt that this once was a hardworking community.

But I think, like Salisbury, if you do not acknowledge the problems (drugs, gangs, poverty, jobs) you can not fix them.

Anonymous said...

The mayor was not a good person to interview. He is much like Obama in that he has been mayor for almost 8 years and he wants to blame all of Crisfields problems on someone or something else. Now he wants to run for House of Delegates, I for one will not be voting for him. Crisfield is in worse condition now than it was eight years ago.

Anonymous said...

We were in Crisfield Sunday - deciding to take a right turn off 13 before heading on down to Wallops Is.

Found a great eatery (old Crab House) that was serving a buffet for $20 - All kinds of great seafood, beef, chicken, veggies and dessert.
Even greater was over 62 could fill a meat platter once for $10.

Rode all around - think we took every dead end road in the area - and enjoyed the ride/ There is potential for Crisfield. We are going back on a week day to some of the stores we saw.

Joe why don't you get in on it since Salisbury chooses not to see the erroor of their ways.

Anonymous said...

WELFARE PEEPS KILLING AND KILLED CHRISFIELD.

Anonymous said...

When this winter is over I hope a sea level study will be done.An unbiased worldwide measurement to determine if the land mass worldwide is gaining or losing.We cannot have it both ways,unless the end result suggests an unchanged status.Global warming will result in a loss of land.Global cooling will result in an increase.An independent study with zero political motives.

Anonymous said...

A waterpark is a wonderful idea - a lot of people like to look at the ocean but don't like to get in it and they don't mind going to a pool or waterpark. For all you fuddy daddy's that don't care for a waterpark, go to the ocean. After visiting the waterpark, we'll go to Crisfield to get some crabs and you can have your picnic at the ocean!

Anonymous said...

10:49 - "An independent study with zero political motives"?? Once upon a time there were three bears, a momma bear, a poppa bear and a little baby bear........

Anonymous said...

Born and bred Eastern Shoremen appreciate Crisfield as is. Come-heres do not currently, nor will they ever be able to comprehend.

Anonymous said...

2:07 I do not know how you can speak on behalf of a shoreman. I know shoremen who now work other jobs in salisbury and surrounding areas. If living in poverty in a drug community is your thing, then good for you. Because that is all the world hears about.

Anonymous said...

1049 you don't even have to go world wide. There is plenty of data available FREE from sensors set up across the chesapeake bay. Take 10 minutes, download it, and create an excel graph so you can see yourself whats been going on.

Anonymous said...

notice how 2:07/10:49 does not capitalize "Shoremen" The "collective" has spoken..

Makes me wonder how many in Public Service down here feel obligated to bait the public while on the Computers our tax dollars bought them?

Oh yeah smug wasteful Progressives can do whatever they please as long as nepotism or a "union" enables them.

Anonymous said...

Somers Cove has destroyed Crisfield! The management at housing authority has invited criminals and squatters in that place ruining all businesses and visitors. Management does nothing about the criminals they accept. People who defend that place either live in Somers Cove or do not live there and think everything is peachy. Crime is through the roof. Sex offenders, murderers, drug dealer and drug users. The Pines motel houses the ones who have been evicted from Somers Cove just long enough to be accepted BACK. The Pines had a murder in 2012. Somers Cove had a murder in the same month as The Pines murder. The Pride Lodge needs to be shut down. Drive by there when they have hip hop night and it looks like a block party OUTSIDE with known gang members selling their drugs and shooting their guns into the air. Joe, there is NO HOPE for Crisfield. The down fall was when Crisfield accepted section 8 in a high market area. Get rid of Somers Cove and The Pride Lodge altogether and watch Crisfield bounce back!

Anonymous said...

First of all crisfield isn't going to bounce back now or later. The shore isn't going to bounce back either. You have lost the jobs, companies, and people. You born here's are the ones who don't get it.... But you never have and it explains a lot!!!!! The shore has spun itself out of control and there is nothing to save. It's alittle thing called PROGRESS!!!!!! You born here's are to ignorant to it and just keeps passing you by. What you fail to realize is the less people means less of everything else. The born here's can't save the shore and may one day realize it although I doubt it. The come here's brought money,and people...now as they leave so does the life blood of the shore...good luck Delmarva.....you all need it.

Anonymous said...


8:52 had an accurate comment. The choicest waterfront was given over to housing for the roughest characters. Bad decision.

Crisfield is a very cohesive community and residents know who is respectable, or not.

Replacing Captain's Galley with the leaning condos was another step backward.

I wish the residents well; the community has more than its fair share of challenges.

Anonymous said...

8:33 PM

New Jersey is calling your name.

Anonymous said...

Actually I moved to Delmarva from New Jersey nearly 20 years ago. I loved the area and still do but last year we gave up and left. The area has been in decline for a long time and we saw the writing on the wall. So you born here's go ahead and take your shots. You don't have much left and as you cry the blues I'm enjoying the wonderful weather and great job I have now living in Florida. They understand that newcomers creat jobs, and help with progress. I guess that's why swfll is the fastest growing area in the country! Delmarva not so much. It's the mentality... They greet you with a smile unlike you born here's who don't welcome much anything...... Like progress....

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with Crisfield and the Eastern Shore is ECI. ECI has brought criminals and criminals families to Salisbury, P.A., Pocomoke and Crisfield. The minority population committing crime it growing by leaps and bounds. Get rid of ECI and the Projects and you will see success on the Eastern Shore.

Crisfield and any waterfront town on the Eastern Shore has the potential to be the next Ocean City any time they choose. They just need someone like me with a vision. By the way I won't be posting my ideas on here.

Anonymous said...

The leaders and planners of crisfield need to take a ride on down to Cape Charles. They somehow pulled off an amazing transformation. CC was in same condition 10 + yrs ago, now its nicer than Berlin.