Commission is charting course of county's future

March 27, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

Harford County's population is getting older and wealthier. Its residents are seeing an increase in crime, a slowdown in the economy and a shortage of affordable housing. Its residential terrain is growing while its natural environment is shrinking.

These are just some of the realities the Harford County Futures Commission is discovering as it tries to predict what the county will be like in 2005.

The all-volunteer commission was created by County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann in January to review demographic changes in the county and assess their impact on the quality of life in the next 10 years.

By Dec. 15 the commission is expected to deliver answers to the county executive's questions: What are the key challenges facing the county, and what should be Harford's strategy in meeting them?

"Their hardest task will be coming up with a focus area," said Mrs. Rehrmann, noting that dozens of issues will be critical to Harford County residents in the next decade.

"But the quality-of-life issues here are not necessarily the same as the issues facing Baltimore County or Cecil County or Anne Arundel County," she said.

"For instance, take the difference in the number of people outbound from this county in the morning. How does that impact child care or transportation needs? These are things we have to look into if we are to be pro-active. If we sit back and do nothing, we're going to have our future shaped for us."

The 30-member commission is diverse economically, professionally, ethnically and geographically.

"We wanted an independent, nonpolitical, nonpartisan group to look at the current situation of the county and ask people in the county what the future here might look like," said G. Jeremiah Ryan, who is coordinating the committee.

Its members, he said, work in business, real estate, education, health, criminal justice, farming, and homemaking. One is a high school student. None is a government employee.

Mr. Ryan, who is vice president for marketing, planning and development for Harford Community College, says his role is to organize the commission's work and see that its members get the information they need to do their job.

The commission started its research, Mr. Ryan said, by reviewing about 50 government documents, ranging from storm-water management reports to the latest Harford County Census accounts.

In May and June, the commission plans to distribute 50,000 surveys among county residents to get their views on the county's future, he said.

Town meetings will be held in September for further public input before a final report, with the commission's recommendations, is compiled in late fall.

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