Brown won't back grant bid Opposition unlikely to affect EPA decision

November 15, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Westminster's refusal to support a county government bid for a federal grant is not expected to hurt the county's chances of getting it.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown declined to sign a support letter after he found a statement in the grant application that pledged Westminster's financial support in hiring an environmental education specialist. That was a factual error, he said.

Mr. Brown said he will be pleased if the county gets the $28,500 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, although he attacked the idea as "building the county bureaucracy" at a recent council meeting.

The mayor said he doesn't want to mislead federal grants administrators into thinking city money will be involved.

The county water resources bureau sought Westminster's support because the grant application focuses on an unnamed stream that flows through the city to the West Branch of the Patapsco River. The stream gained fame after local activist Monroe Haines spent years trying to clean it up.

Mr. Brown pulled out after he read in the county grant application package that Westminster had budgeted $5,000 for the project.

"In reality, the second $5,000 the council had approved was for cleanup" of the stream, the mayor said.

The money was not planned for an environmental education specialist, he said.

"I am incensed to the point that I can no longer support this," the mayor told the City Council last week after reading the grant application.

No council member disagreed.

This year, the council budgeted $5,000 to help pay for a feasibility study for proposals to improve the stream. The council tentatively endorsed an additional $5,000 for structural improvements in the 1994-1995 budget, said Katrina L. Tucker, a city planner.

Catherine M. Rappe, chief of the county water resources bureau, which wrote the grant application, said the statement wouldn't have obligated Westminster to help pay for the environmental education specialist.

The statement was made "just to put a little teeth into it from an EPA standpoint," Ms. Rappe said.

The county's chances for the grant probably wouldn't be affected, unless an involved agency such as Westminster sent a letter of opposition, said George Walker, an environmental education specialist in the grants program at EPA's Washington headquarters.

"If we knew there was a quarrel, it could affect [a grant application]," he said.

Mr. Walker said if he were a local government seeking federal money he would not advise EPA of any lack of support.

The grant application went to EPA with endorsements from the Maryland Department of the Environment, whose money will be added to the federal dollars, and from the Carroll Board of Education.

If EPA approves, the county plans to create an environmental library and education office. The specialist would help the community understand watersheds and how different land uses and activities affect stream quality, the grant application states.

The specialist also would conduct workshops for teachers in county schools and consult with the Board of Education on environmental issues in science studies.

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