It would be a mistake, at this relatively early stage, fo Baltimore County to cut off the possibility that Worldbridge Center might become a reality. Nonetheless, it appears that lack specificity on the part of the developer along with greatly exploited fears of an Asian presence in eastern Baltimore County finally tipped the scales against the project.
The newly announced opposition of Executive Roger Hayden and 5th District Councilman Vince Gardina makes virtually certain that the zoning changes sought by the developer will never be approved -- and the potential loss is enormous. The state recently reported that Worldbridge would generate an impressive $1.7 million a year in economic ripples and create 28,000 badly needed jobs across the state.
Opposition to the project is nothing new. For the most part, however, the concerns and problems have been petty and parochial -- and, more important, solvable. The Rasmussen administration, which nurtured Worldbridge, continued to back it anyway, on the grounds that the long-term economic benefits far outweighed the short-term struggle to iron out the problems. In rejecting that argument, the Hayden administration faces a daunting challenge: The site on which Worldbridge might have been built is the largest chunk of industrially zoned land on the East Coast. It is too valuable a resource either to sit idle or to be underused, particularly with the economy in a slump. An alternative use, at least as fiscally promising as Worldbridge, must be found. And that -- if it is doable at all -- is surely a Herculean task.