Letter-writing campaign stalled

December 22, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

A letter-writing campaign to lobby state officials for money for a Hampstead bypass has been moving about as fast as Route 30 traffic through the town during the evening rush hour.

Hampstead officials and the Carroll County commissioners agreed Dec. 7 to call for a letter-writing effort in support of the Hampstead bypass. But the campaign has been stalled since then.

On Friday, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy Jr. distanced himself from the Dec. 7 suggestion of Commissioner Julia W. Gouge that the county should help pay for a billboard on Route 30 to publicize the campaign.

Hampstead Councilman Dwight Womer called for the letter-writing drive at the Nov. 15 council meeting, after he reported that a meeting between O. James Lighthizer, the state transportation secretary, and Hampstead officials had produced only bad news.

Mr. Womer said then that Maryland officials had told local officials no state money would be available for the bypass for the next six years, except for $25,000 for engineering work.

Land and construction costs for the bypass are expected to reach $35 million.

Mr. Womer called for anyone who uses Route 30 to write to Mr. Lighthizer and Hal Kassoff, the state highway administrator, to solicit their support for bypass financing. This week, county and town officials also have decided to direct the letters to Del. Richard N. Dixon, a District 5A Democrat and a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Womer said Monday that the committee studying the bypass issue is supposed to meet Jan. 8 to "physically walk" the area where the highway is proposed, and committee members are scheduled to meet with state highway officials Jan. 10 to discuss the findings.

At the Dec. 7 Town Hall meeting of Hampstead officials and county commissioners, the commissioners said they supported the idea of a letter-writing campaign. But there has been no action since then, Mr. Lippy said Friday.

Robert A. "Max" Bair, the commissioners' administrative assistant, suggested at the meeting that the Carroll County legislative delegation should be contacted before the campaign began.

Mr. Bair and Hampstead Town Manager John A. Riley said it would be wise to ask the legislators -- who support the bypass -- who should be lobbied.

Councilwoman Jacqueline Hyatt said the matter may have been put on a back burner partly because neither Hampstead Mayor Clint Becker nor Mr. Womer, who has council oversight responsibility for transportation, were able to attend the Dec. 7 meeting.

At that meeting, Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the county would help pay for a billboard to enlist Route 30 travelers in the proposed letter-writing campaign. She reasoned that people living in Baltimore County and Pennsylvania who use the road may want to write letters, as well as Carroll County residents.

"I'm in favor of the letter-writing," Mr. Lippy said Friday, but, "I do have second thoughts about spending money on a billboard.

"I can hear the folks in South Carroll saying, 'Oh, yes,' and being annoyed because the commissioners -- all of whom live in North Carroll -- are willing to spend money to politick to resolve a North Carroll problem when there isn't enough money to ease school overcrowding in the southern part of the county."

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