Over-building in Liberty Rd. corridorReporter Larry...

the FORUM

July 13, 1995

Over-building in Liberty Rd. corridor

Reporter Larry Carson's story on July 3 about school overcrowding and development in Baltimore County refers to the Hebbville School in my community.

It is asserted that the Hebbville School is 40 percent over-crowded and that only 12 housing units have been proposed nearby.

There are two developments that Baltimore County has authorized near the school that will contain more than 200 units. I believe that less than 10 units have been built and sold to date.

The over-crowding of the school might be attributed to the large number of tenants in the nearby apartments who are receiving Section 8 housing subsidies. The occupants of the apartments tend to have more young children than the occupants of the surrounding homes.

It would seem to be a situation where the higher population density of the apartments is overwhelming the school, whose capacity has not been increased since it was built to serve a community of small homes.

If the developments are ever completed, the school capacity will be totally inadequate.

The over-development of the area has recently resulted in two deaths due to fire, as we apparently lack sufficient water for fire protection. Basements are flooded in heavy rains due to insufficient storm water runoff capacity.

Some home-owners complain of overflowing toilets, as the community has inadequate sewers. The traffic intersection at Liberty Road and Washington Avenue has one of the highest traffic densities in Baltimore County and is frequently at gridlock.

The development moratorium has come too late to solve the community's problem of an inadequate public works infrastructure.

Any further development will only make the county's fiscal problems worse, as the occupants of new housing will require more services than they will support in taxes.

For example, a family with two children will get $12,000 of education (Baltimore County spends about $6,000 per student annually) while paying about $1,100 in real estate taxes. The rest of the taxpayers make up the difference.

Piecemeal development decisions do not allow the county to look at the big picture and prepare a rational plan that can logically integrate taxes and adequate public services with fiscal responsibility and the quality of life.

Jerome Goodman

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Rockdale Civic and Improvement Association.

Court rulings

Now that the Supreme Court is becoming increasingly conservative, will it somehow cripple or even abolish Social Security?

Don't laugh. Either could happen.

And for eye-openers, review decisions handed down by the court during this century.

Emil Antos

Dundalk

Play can be safe

I read your June 24 report of the tragic death of Teresa Dawn Ackerman, a 13-year-old girl who was killed when an unanchored extension to a wooden swing set on which she was climbing toppled and struck the side of her head.

In his grief, Teresa's stepfather called the death "a fluke, a tragic accident.`

Playground injuries are not freak accidents. They are predictable events that can be prevented and controlled.

Each year in the United States, an average of 200,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries, and at least 17 children die from their injuries.

Three-quarters of the injuries that occur on playgrounds are due to falls -- primarily falls to the surface below the equipment. One-third of the fatalities are due to falls.

But death on the playground also results from strangulation and impact with moving equipment. Equipment failures, can, as in Teresa's case, cause equipment to tip over.

Voluntary safety guidelines provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in its Handbook for Public Playground Safety, and by the American Society for Testing and Materials, in its standards for public and home playgrounds, recommend ways to provide a safe playground environment.

Purchasing safe playground equipment and surfacing, installing them according to manufacturer's instructions and in compliance with the CPSC and ASTM guidelines, and maintaining the equipment and surfacing are elements of a comprehensive playground safety program that can prevent playground injury and death.

Playground owners and operators must check their equipment for compliance with the CPSC and ASTM guidelines and devise a comprehensive safety plan.

State and local legislators and regulators should also consider mandating compliance with the CPSC and ASTM recommendations for day care, school and public playgrounds.

Susan DeFrancesco

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Injury Prevention Works, a non-profit organization that serves as a nationwide clearinghouse for playground safety information.

Pulling EPA's plug

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