Designing a new hometown can be an exasperating experience. There are meetings and reports and more meetings and more reports. Sometimes,it seems little gets done.
"We've been spinning our wheels for some months now," said Al Shehab, chairman of the Odenton Growth Management Committee, which was appointed by County Executive Robert R. Neall to redo Odenton and create a plan for 218 acres of town center land.
Bruce Galloway, a consultant hired by the county to lead the process, assured Shehab and other committee members that practical plans are only a month or two away.
But first, the sometimes mundane process of gathering information must be completed.
That step took a practical turn on Wednesday.
Last month, the committee of residents, business managers and county planners brainstormed to envisage an ideal Odenton. Now, those ideas are on paper -- four visions of how the community will look in 20 years.
"This should be a lot of fun,"Galloway told the group. "You get to criticize us for the way we listened to you, and we get to help you define a different vision for Odenton."
The growth management committee has been meeting since April 1991 to draft rules for developers who want to build on the town center land and its periphery.
Over the next month or so, committeemembers and county planners will take the four visions, plug in statistics from marketing studies and comments from residents and businesses, and see what kind of growth is desirable and economically feasible.
One of the biggest obstacles is trying to decide where the center of Odenton should be. The committee has identified four potentialsites, from the existing shopping center off Route 175 to Boomtown to the town center land at routes 32 and 175.
The location of the center has a direct bearing on the siting of the MARC train station, which was the center of Wednesday's debate.
The question that remains is whether Odenton sees itself as a regional transportation hub for West County or as simply providing first-rate regional transportation access for its residents.
Under the latter plan, Galloway said the railroad station should be located among stores and shops and within walking distance of homes. Under the former, the station should provide commuters an easy way to get in and out of the community.
The Rev. Phebe Coe, pastor of the historic Epiphany Episcopal Church, said the plan should not try to find one center for Odenton but should highlight each.
"I think each area does provide something special and unique," she said, adding that improvements should be made to the entire community at the same time.