Club mediates east-west differences

March 23, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Malfunction Junction is causing trouble again.

The multi-street intersection at Leelyn Drive and Ritchie Highway, famous for its confusing traffic patterns, is stirring up old feelings of resentment among some East Severna Park residents, but the Severna Park Democratic Club wants to be a mediator for this and other traffic concerns in the community.

To ease the tension between neighbors and encourage residents to become more involved in the community, the club is holding a series of open meetings.

The first, to be held Tuesday, will deal with roads and traffic. Representatives from the State Highway Administration, the county Traffic Engineering office, the state legislature and the County Council are expected to attend the 7 p.m. meeting at the Riverdale Restaurant on Inverness Road.

Malfunction Junction is expected to be a central part of Tuesday's discussion. New construction at the intersection has been the catalyst for recent conversation about the east-west division.

A new median strip on Leelyn Drive makes left hand turns onto Asbury Drive impossible, worsening commuting for residents who live in communities off Asbury.

The feeling among some eastside residents is that the Greater Severna Park Council, which is mainly composed of westside communities, approved the project with little regard to its effect on eastside residents.

"This side gets overlooked by the west," said Kevin Sosnoski, describing the comments he's heard from patrons of his store, Goska's Liquors, located on the east. "They just seem to be upset that there hasn't been any solution yet," to the problems at the intersection.

The perception of conflict between the east and west sides of Ritchie Highway is nothing new.

The split became obvious to Ed Doyas about 20 years ago when he was turned down for a date in high school.

"Her father didn't want her dating someone from the other side of [Ritchie] highway," Mr. Doyas, 35, explained.

"I've been told I lived on the poor side of town. I've heard comments that the East should be a part of Pasadena. This is an attitude problem that has grown over the years on both sides," he said.

Today, as president of the Democratic Club, he hopes to bring residents from both sides of the highway together.

"The purpose is to get the residents more involved," said Mr. Doyas, who said that the club is only providing a forum for discussion and will not be taking a stand on any issues.

"By opening the club to the public meetings, I'm hoping that some attitudes will be changed," he said.

Pat Troy, a former president and board member of the GSPC who has lived on both sides of the highway, said the eastside's feeling of being overlooked is unfounded.

"The facts just don't support it," said Ms. Troy, who moved from the west side to the east while she was president of the council two years ago. She also said several eastside residents have held prominent positions on the council and that the GSPC doesn't make county road decisions.

"The council doesn't have any authority. The fact of the matter is the State Highway Administration is going to prevail, no matter what we decide," she said. "They're going to do what they feel is the safest thing."

Ms. Troy said the community needs unity among its residents. "We just need to start thinking as one community," she said. "We shouldn't let Ritchie Highway divide us."

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