This report is to assist in planning Crisfield’s future – NOT to criticize, attempt to replace or undermine any current, past and/or future plans or efforts. There are an array of subjects addressed herein, some of which align with parts of existing plans, such as the 2008 Crisfield Strategic Revitalization Plan (2008 CSRP), Crisfield’s Comprehensive Plan, the Greater Crisfield Action Coalition’s (GCAC) plan, and other initiatives as well. Some parts of this report are, to my knowledge, completely new.
It must be noted that over the past few decades, thousands upon thousands of dollars have been paid to professional firms for their experts to produce strategic plans for Crisfield’s future and creating a tourism industry. However, these plans have had little to no success.
For example, in the 1980’s we had ‘Project Phoenix,’ which was the rebuilding of the area on W. Main St. between 10th and 11th streets after it was destroyed by fire. That project was pitched that Crisfield would do just as the mythical phoenix did – rise from the ashes. Over three decades later, the result of Project Phoenix is a dilapidated parking lot consisting of part asphalt, part stone and part oyster shells.
I could continue providing examples, but it can’t be denied that a lot of time, effort and money has been wasted on professionally produced reports/strategies. As I was studying and researching for this project, I paid special attention to these past strategies to better understand how, and why, they didn’t succeed. I quickly developed a theory for a partial cause of failure, which was solidified more as my research continued.
The conclusion I reached was that even though these reports/strategies were produced by professionals, they didn’t fully understand the subject matter – which is the local people. Yes, most of the reports/strategies had public-input sessions for the locals, and even worked with advisory-committees comprised of locals, but none of the existing reports/strategies took into consideration, or probably understood, the level of importance that the locals are in executing any plan for Crisfield.
Crisfield is extraordinarily unique to most other cities and areas. There are few places where the majority of the current population are direct descendants of the original colonial settlers from the 1600’s. This has created complex relationships and the development of highly unique personal characteristics that have been passed from one generation to the next.
These attributes, along with the independent spirit that’s commonly held, will strongly affect any strategic plan. I found that some of the past initiatives provided overall strategies but met opposition, or lost momentum, immediately or soon after these strategies began to be implemented, and I feel not understanding the ‘Local Element’ was a major reason why.
Crisfielders will rally around certain things, but it has to be presented on a personal level, not on social media, in a newspaper or a general public announcement. It’s important to know who people get along with and who they don’t. Some people are extremely valuable but don’t want attention. There are certain people who are well liked and respected within the community, and if they are recruited at the outset, they can obtain support from within their circles. There are people who will criticize and rundown any idea that is not their own, and there are some people that simply don’t want new people coming to town.
All of these different personalities must be considered when producing a plan. Even though I don’t specify everywhere this concept has been utilized and applied within this report, everything included herein has been produced with the local-element in mind.