Worldbridge plan viewed skeptically

May 03, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

No measure of reassurance from Baltimore County officials, nor from developers of the Worldbridge trade center and theme park last night could sell Carlisle Ewing on the benefits of the development.

"My feeling is, I don't want it here," said Mr. Ewing, who runs an auto parts yard in Middle River near the site of the proposed 1,000-acre complex.

Mr. Ewing sees the proposal as a threat to his business because he fears it will eventually eat up his property.

"I worked for 17 years for what I got, and no politician is going to take it away from me," said Mr. Ewing, a 21-year Marine veteran, waving a red cap with "USMC" on it.

Mr. Ewing was one of about 150 people who came out to Eastern Votech High School in Essex last night to hear an update from county officials and from the developers.

For the past two years, Asia/USA Development Corp., headed by developer Dean L. Gitter, has been planning an Asian theme park and trade center for a 1,000-acre tract in Middle River that would include a golf course, a residential community, some hotels and a retail center.

Councilman Vincent Gardina, D-5th, who set up the session and whose district includes the site, described proposed legislation that spells out a series of reviews and hearings that would be necessary before the development is approved.

"A lot of people have a misconception that this Worldbridge project is going to be slipped through," he said. "That's just not the case."

Chris T. Delaporte, director of development for the Worldbridge project, presented a slide show on the theme park with elephants that he said would be in the Thailand exhibit, camels in the Mongolia section and teahouses in Japan.

He also displayed a letter of endorsement from a smiling Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, that brought a few chuckles from the crowd.

But most remained skeptical, expressing concern about the plan's effects on the environment, on traffic and its compatibility with the surrounding community.

"We saw a lot of goodies there, but I didn't see anything about the good old U.S. of A.," said Philip Friedel, who lives in nearby Essex.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who was at the session and has endorsed the project, said after the two-hour session he heard nothing to change his position.

"At this point what we're doing is still gathering information. The concerns we heard here, we'll address them as we go forward on this," he said.

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