From: Henry Senatore
On the evening of Oct. 22, I attended a community meeting at the Waverly Elementary School to hear County Executive Charles I. Ecker speak about the mixed-use center planned for the Waverly Woods site. This topic also let him discuss growth as it relates to the General Plan and adequate facilities legislation. The president of the community association CARE and activist Susan Gray also addressed the gathering.
The impression that I had leaving the meeting was that CARE isnot a wild "no-growth" organization. I found the arguments and demeanor of CARE representatives to be very professional and the communityresponse to be uniformly in agreement with CARE and Susan Gray.
Ithink that the overwhelming majority of the public expressed valid concerns about the excessive growth generated by the project. They were not anti-growth; they realized that growth was inevitable. Nearly everyone was opposed to the mixed-use development until studies are completed about the county's ability to support the infrastructure needed for this growth.
Even Dr. Ecker agreed that the soon-to-be-introduced adequate facilities legislation only deals with schools and roads (not police, emergency, fire, libraries, administration, parks and recreation) and is therefore inadequate to start with!
Many in attendance also expressed concerns about the expansion of the neighboring dump site as a result of excessive growth. These were all very reasonable people with researched, valid concerns. I thank CARE for spending much time and money to bring the information to the public.
I hope that your readers will investigate the Waverly Woods issue andthe impact of mixed-use centers. In the General Plan there are about12 mixed-use sites planned throughout the county. Everyone should understand the urbanized growth and tax burden that this growth will create. Also, one of those other mixed-use developments could be in everyone's backyard!
WHERE THE BUCK STOPS
From: Kathryn Mann
The costs of the current recession are coming home to Howard County once again. Whether we like it or not, we must be prepared to absorb another, probably not the last, round of reductions in state contributions to local government. The federal government cuts back, the state must cut and, in the end, you and I bear the scars. The buck -- or non-buck -- stops here.
How are we going to meet these reductions? Has the county executive targeted another group of low-ranking, low-paid, front-line employees to bear the brunt again? Shall we turn another lot of anonymous faces out of work, reducing our tax base once again? Will the executive continue to find ways to spare himselfand his highly paid staff from tightening their belts?
These are not theoretical questions -- they are real and vital concerns to the taxpayers of Howard County. We are investing more money in our government but receiving less and less.
Where are the "reforms" that were supposed to minimize the cost of our infrastructure? Where are the new sources of income that would relieve the ordinary citizen of paying more and getting less?
The executive must meet these challengeshead on. It does not sit well when contracts are ignored while the executive changes the law to get a pension he was not entitled to receive. Has he canceled his recent pay raise? It may not balance our budget but it would, at least, put his money where his rhetoric has been.
Howard County must cut costs, but where they are cut will best reveal the priorities of the people at the top. Are they more interested in insulating themselves and their friends or in getting the most out of the real dollars taxed out of real people?
It would be a welcome change for this administration to talk to those who have been and will be affected by cuts before wieldingthe ax. It's a great idea to keep your door open but much more important not to shut your eyes and ears and mind.
(Kathryn Mann is chairwoman of the issues committee of the Democratic Executive Council.)
DISGUSTED BY HEARING
From: Allan H. Kittleman
An open letter to C. Vernon Gray, chairman, Howard County Council:
I am writing to express my disgust for the way you handled the so-called public hearing on the council's redistricting bill/resolution on Monday, Oct. 21.
As reported by James M. Coram in The Howard County Sun ("Residents balk at planto split Highland," Oct. 23), I had planned to testify on behalf of the Howard County Republican Central Committee. I wanted to publicly state our party's dissatisfaction with the present proposal and reaffirm our support for the plan previously submitted by County Executive(Charles I.) Ecker. Unfortunately, since you did not begin the hearing until after 12 a.m., I was unable to testify.