Skate and Hate

August 26, 1994

For now, it appears that the issue is moot over whether to build a Sandymount ice skating rink, but a disturbing undercurrent coursed through the arguments against the project. Some opponents objected that the facility would be a gathering spot for youths. Others expressed fears that "outside" or "rowdy" people would be drawn to Carroll County. In the minds of these opponents, an ice-skating rink was a synonym for crime.

Such demagogy aside, there are good grounds to object to this particular venture. Locating a large ice rink with a substantial parking lot in a rural setting doesn't represent the best in planning. The financial arrangements between the promoters and county government needed close scrutiny. Nevertheless, the general idea of building an ice rink in the county is a good

one.

In a jurisdiction where juvenile idleness and petty vandalism disrupts many communities, it is hard to understand the opposition to a recreational site that might help alleviate those problems. Certainly youths would gather at a rink to skate or meet other kids. Congregating is an age-appropriate activity for teen-agers. As much as adults may cringe at the sight of hordes of youths together -- except behind their school desks -- kids do need to socialize. A well-supervised ice rink can provide a location for healthy physical and social activity. Indoor ice rinks elsewhere in the region seem to fulfill this without becoming hotbeds of rowdyism.

The most troubling criticism in the debate over the ice rink was that it would be a magnet for "outsiders." There is a horrible assumption in Carroll that all of its crime and trouble can be blamed on people from somewhere else. At a recent forum, Rachelle Feldman-Hurwitz, a candidate for state Senate in the 5th District who should know better, even went so far to decry "they are coming up Liberty Road and Route 140." Two years ago, when a Melrose hardware store owner was murdered, many assumed that someone from the inner city committed the act. As it turned out, the murderer was a nearby neighbor. The same holds true for the majority of Carroll's rare brutal crimes.

This ugly antagonism directed toward people outside Carroll, not to mention against the county's own youth, is unbecoming of a decent community. Carroll's moral leaders must speak out against this thoughtless hatred and prejudice.

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