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(Brunswick Mayor Candidate: Nathan Brown aims to revitalize downtown By Greg Swatek Over an egg sandwich and iced tea on a recent morning at Beans in the Belfry, Nathan Brown sits squarely in the middle of the future he envisions for downtown Brunswick. Sunlight streams through the stained-glass windows, a reminder that old building the popular cafe sits in used to serve the town as a church. “It’s what I hope we continue to see in Brunswick,” Brown says. “Take these old buildings, take the...)
 
 
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Latest revision as of 08:57, 30 July 2020

Summary

Brunswick Mayor Candidate: Nathan Brown aims to revitalize downtown By Greg Swatek

Over an egg sandwich and iced tea on a recent morning at Beans in the Belfry, Nathan Brown sits squarely in the middle of the future he envisions for downtown Brunswick. Sunlight streams through the stained-glass windows, a reminder that old building the popular cafe sits in used to serve the town as a church. “It’s what I hope we continue to see in Brunswick,” Brown says. “Take these old buildings, take the architecture and transform them into something that people are looking for today.” As Brown, a 32-year-old city councilman points out, Beans in the Belfry has done that better than most, pulling in people off of the trains and the C&O Canal and offering them a comfortable place to eat, socialize and rest. “It’s one of the gems [in town],” Brown says. “Proof that revitalization is possible here.” Brown, a lifelong Brunswick resident, is running for mayor after serving two years so far on the city council. The election, which is being done entirely by mail for the first time in the small town’s 130-year history, culminates Aug. 4. All ballots must be turned in by that date. Downtown revitalization, a major goal for decades in Brunswick, is one of Brown’s biggest priorities. He’d like to turn many of the vacant buildings into thriving businesses while maintaining or restoring much of the existing architecture. He is open to creative ideas and said it will take bringing many of the old buildings up to code and, perhaps, providing strategic financial incentives through the use of grants. “Smoketown Brewing Station is another one, taking an old fire hall and transforming it into a brewery,” Brown says. “A lot of the business owners here in town are creative like that. You know, they play to the history and architecture of the buildings. To me, I think that’s what is going to set Brunswick apart. If we kind of keep on that path with these buildings downtown, that will create a really cool space that people will come to.” But there are other pressing matters that Brown wants to address. Brunswick has aging infrastructure with its water and sewer systems, leading to significantly higher bills for its residents and fomenting public distrust. Through his work on the city council, Brown has helped replace roughly 2,400 of the 3,000 water meters that needed to be updated around town. It now takes hours instead of weeks to read them, providing the city with more timely and accurate measurements of usage. Brown is also trying to help shepherd a multi-million dollar plan through the state-approval process that will allow Yourtee Springs to provide cheaper-to-treat spring water to Brunswick again after it went offline in June of 2018 for failing to meet sanitization standards. But solving the problem is more complex than that. “Now we have a public-trust issue,” Brown says. “The public is leery about what’s going on. For so long, the issue has been ignored.” Brown fancies himself as a problem solver who likes to roll up his sleeves and get things done. He’s well-versed in policies and procedures and approvals through his fulltime job with the National Institute of Health in Bethesda. “He’s very good on following through with the stuff that we look at,” fellow city councilman Andrew St. John said. Nearly an hour has passed at Beans in the Belfry and Brown has barely touched his sandwich. He sips his tea only occasionally. There is too much to talk about regarding a town that he loves. “I guess I am the type of person that can’t sit back and complain,” he said. “If you see the opportunity and see the potential, you kind of need to jump in and help.”

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current08:53, 30 July 2020Thumbnail for version as of 08:53, 30 July 2020456 × 651 (290 KB)Jknight (talk | contribs)Brunswick Mayor Candidate: Nathan Brown aims to revitalize downtown By Greg Swatek Over an egg sandwich and iced tea on a recent morning at Beans in the Belfry, Nathan Brown sits squarely in the middle of the future he envisions for downtown Brunswick. Sunlight streams through the stained-glass windows, a reminder that old building the popular cafe sits in used to serve the town as a church. “It’s what I hope we continue to see in Brunswick,” Brown says. “Take these old buildings, take the...

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