Footbridge foes to get their chance Opinions in area will be solicited BALTIMORE COUNTY

February 27, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

After a sometimes heated, two-hour meeting, community leaders in the Oliver Beach and Harewood Park areas agreed to start over again and find out if residents want a footbridge built over the Amtrak railroad tracks.

John Kerner, president of the Harewood Park Community League, said a committee of people from four local community groups will meet to decide how to accurately poll the 1,400 area households. The Harewood Park group favors building the bridge.

Patrick Pomeroy, president of the newly formed Bay Country Concerned Citizens, which called the Thursday night meeting that drew about 150 people, said the committee also will look at possible alternatives. Mr. Pomeroy said a majority of Bay Country residents oppose the bridge.

The Amtrak line separates the Harewood Park and Twin River communities from Oliver Beach and Bay Country.

Patricia Sullivan, a leading opponent of the bridge, said she hopes the survey will put the issue to rest. She also said the vast majority of people attending the meeting, held at Oliver Beach Elementary School, don't want the bridge.

Back in July, community associations in Harewood Park, Twin River and Oliver Beach -- concerned for the safety of children who cross the tracks daily -- recommended building a 50-foot concrete walkway enclosed in wire mesh.

They pushed local, state and federal officials for a $1 million footbridge.

Money for the walkway became available through Maryland's share of a federal transportation funding bill past last year. But federal officials said someone had to take responsibility for maintaining the bridge.

While local, state and federal officials got bogged down in wrangling over who would take care of the bridge, community opposition organized.

Currently, Baltimore County and the state Mass Transit Administration are close to an agreement whereby the county would pay $22,000 annually for routine maintenance.

During Thursday night's meeting, some speakers decried the possible use of county money to maintain a bridge at a time when the county is cutting jobs and programs. Other residents wanted the state to use the federal transportation money to improve area roads, but an MTA official said the money had to be spent on projects related to rail transportation.

Residents also were angry that Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, D-5th, was the only county official to show up for the meeting.

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