Landfill not a 'done deal'
From: Paul R. Farragut
An open letter to Charles Aston:
On May 21, as part of the approval of the fiscal year 1993 capital budget, I voted to amend the description of project C-0229 (Landfill Site Acquisition) by adding the following language, "The initial study will not commence prior to submission of the Solid Waste Management Plan (Capital Project C-0290) to the County Council."
The state-mandated Comprehensive Solid Waste Master Plan will guide policy decisions about disposal of our solid waste for the next 10 years. It does not seem reasonable, or responsible, to close off major options, such as expanded landfill capacity, before that document has been completed.
I am certainly not committed to expansion, but I do feel further investigation may be necessary.
I made it very clear that my vote on the feasibility study project did not signal approval of landfill expansion, generally, or of Alpha Ridge expansion, specifically. If the Solid Waste Master Plan concludes that we should not move ahead with landfill expansion, I will request that the executive remove this project from the capital program or redefine it to address the recommendations of the Master Plan.
The Master Plan process will involve several rounds of public hearings. The Public Works Board and the Planning Board will hear from the public on the recommendations submitted to them by the Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee at either two separate hearings or one combined hearing.
I will request that the executive schedule a public hearing after he receives the committee's report but before he finalizes the administration's recommendations to the council. Another opportunity for public input will be available after a proposed plan has been submitted to the council.
In addition, it should be understood that the funding which has been approved is for feasibility studies (site evaluations) only. No site acquisition can be done until the administration submits a request to the council, in a future budget round, triggering another public hearing.
The problems of solid waste in Howard County are not going to go away, though they may be decreased to some degree by aggressive recycling programs. Within about 10 years we are going to face a real crisis in solid waste disposal. That is close to the minimum amount of lead time needed to choose, design and implement management and disposal programs and/or facilities.
The process is in a very early stage. And, yes, at this stage, expanded landfill capacity remains an option. However, local media reports and letters to the editor notwithstanding, the expansion of the Alpha Ridge landfill is by no means a foregone conclusion. Not everyone "knows the 'study' is going to conclude the expansion is acceptable."
Opponents of an expansion of the Alpha Ridge site have raised serious allegations regarding the existing landfill operations. I intend to follow up on these issues.
I look forward to the continuing opportunities, formal and informal, for public input and debate on this issue, including Mr. Muller's participation on the expanded Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
(Paul Farragut is chairman of the County Council.)
PTA gift sets an example
From: Ann M. Balcerzak
The Clarksville Elementary School PTA, under the direction of its president, Nancy Daughn, has donated a portion of its Giant/Safeway receipts to a Baltimore City school that lacks the resources that are so readily available to our students in Howard County.
This act of generosity and caring is commendable in and of itself, and more importantly, because of the fine example it sets for the students at Clarksville who now have tangible proof that people working together can help solve some of the problems in our world.
I have asked the PTA at my children's school to undertake a similar project and urge other schools to consider the same. The Clarksville Elementary School PTA has set a model for us to follow for which I thank them.
Speed limit not enforced
From: Nancy Gainer
What is the speed limit on U.S. 29 between Ellicott City and Route 32? Is it 70 mph?
It is dangerous to be a driver along this section of U.S. 29 any time of day or night. If you drive 55 mph, people come up behind you at excessive speed, then pass you as though you are standing still.
I travel this route daily, and have not witnessed many police taking action to enforce the posted speed limit. I am the mother of four teen-agers, and I am concerned with their safety as new drivers along what has become Howard County's newest race track!