Community Leaders Envision A Future Of Little Change

April 17, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

Home to quiet, tree-lined streets, government offices and "honey bee" specials. Church capital of the county. A neighborhood of car dealerships and old-fashioned bakeries, an international airport and parks.

When 22 community leaders and longtime Glen Burnie residents satdown to talk about their hometown, they quickly listed the same attractions.

They came from every walk of life. They live in different sections of town, some in single-family homes in the older center of town, others in more modern subdivisions. But the 22 men and women who met Monday night to discuss Glen Burnie's future shared the same vision.

"I never want to see it be a big city," said Lois Gross, who lives onMaple Lane and serves on the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee.

Other community leaders emphasized that they wanted to preserve the parks and old trees, along with the residential sections that graduallyare being squeezed by commercial strips on Crain Highway, Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and Ritchie Highway. They said they wanted to keep the hometown feeling of neighborhood schools, churches and community organizations.

The Glen Burnie Improvement Association organizedMonday night's meeting after members met with state and county transportation officials to discuss light rail and future highway improvements. Kathy DeGrange, head of the civic association's public works committee, said the organization wanted to chart the community's future, instead of just reacting to each new proposal.

"When we got together for meetings, it was all kind of after the fact," said Muriel Carter, chairwoman of the civic group.

Bruce Galloway, a consultant to the county Office of Planning and Zoning, agreed to help the community leaders draft a blueprint for Glen Burnie's future. He started the meeting by asking them to describe what they would show a visitor from out of town.

"I like to ride around old Glen Burnie and show company the older homes, the nice yards and trees," one woman said. Victor Sulin, head of the Urban Renewal Office and fresh from serving his first term in the House of Delegates, mentioned "all the parks," while DeGrange chimed in with "the hiker-biker trail."

Other top spots on the list included Arundel Center North and the fountain in the urban renewal district, local churches and favorite bakeries. Nobody mentioned the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Although the Glen Burnie natives emphasized they wanted to keep the neighborhood the way it looked when they were young, they also had criticisms.

Most opposed the "creeping commercialization" that has pushed into long-standing residential areas. Others expressed concern about the environment-- noise from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, polluted streams and the impact of constant traffic along Crain and Ritchiehighways.

One segment of the group worried about keeping the townsafe enough for seniors and families to walk to the nearest store orrestaurant. DeGrange expressed concern about the lack of entertainment for the young, especially teen-agers who complain there's nothing to do in Glen Burnie.

Even with those complaints, however, the group easily agreed on what they like about Glen Burnie and want to keepin the years to come: a friendly, connected, family-oriented community. A place where children grow up, go to school together and return when they have children.

After writing down all the suggestions, Galloway concluded the 2 1/2-hour meeting by promising to pull together the stream-of-consciousness thoughts into a more coherent blueprint.

Galloway, who helped county leaders develop plans for Parole andOdenton, said tackling an established community like Glen Burnie wasa tougher assignment. But by compiling their thoughts and complaintsinto a vision of Glen Burnie in the next century -- the community could better safeguard its image as, in Galloway's words, "Hometown U.S.A."

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