Pasadena is diverse, growing and friendly Admiring the flowers when mired in traffic on Mountain Road

Neighborhood Profile

October 22, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Frank A. Halgas moved to Pasadena from Pittsburgh in 1972 to take a job at Westinghouse Electric Corp., and since then he has watched the community grow rapidly.

"I think that's the biggest challenge in Pasadena now, growth," said Mr. Halgas, 48, who is president of the Greater Pasadena Council.

The council serves as an umbrella community association, tying together a patchwork of 40 neighborhoods, stretching from inland to the Chesapeake Bay.

Townhomes and single-family dwellings average $80,000 and up, but small waterfront homes near the bay can cost $135,000 or more, real estate agents said.

The median income per household in this large and diverse community, which is home to professional and other white-collar workers, is $46,056.

In 1979, Mr. Halgas left Westinghouse to start his own business, Micro Lambda Distributors Inc.

The company sells electronic components for communication and radar systems from an office located in one of the busiest corridors in town -- Mountain Road. The long stretch of asphalt winds from Ritchie Highway to Gibson Island, where the wealthy live on a private island at the mouth of the Magothy River and have a separate ZIP code.

Residents say two-mile backups are not unheard of along Mountain Road, as commuters make their way from Route 100 onto local roads.

One might expect a daily symphony of blaring car horns and shrill, angry voices of fellow drivers, all frustrated, all trying to get somewhere at the same time.

But Mr. Halgas says this isn't so. "You'll never hear another car horn blow. People will let another car in. People take their time, and look at the flowers," he said.

Not that Mr. Halgas denies the congestion is a problem. He said the community is about evenly divided on whether or not to widen Mountain Road to improve traffic flow.

The consideration neighbors show one another as each tries to make do with a much traveled road is an example of the area's friendliness. Mr. Halgas said that's one of the reasons he has called Pasadena home for 23 years.

"The people here are very warm," he said, echoing the sentiments of other residents. "People take pride in their schools. The PTAs are very active."

"We get involved in local politics with [the Anne Arundel County Council] for the roads and the schools and what we think Pasadena needs," he said.

"People in Pasadena aren't afraid to speak out to get things done."

Rapid growth has led to congestion and overcrowding at schools. Residents say those are the main issues with which Pasadena must now grapple.

Mr. Halgas says the community might consider developing a cooperative growth plan.

Yet, despite the growth and the challenges it has brought, residents say they love their community. Growth, they say, is necessary for a strong community.

In the early days of Pasadena's growth, the community had but one grocer, a hardware store and a restaurant along Mountain Road, residents said. There were no shopping centers or strip malls. The nearest shopping to be had was in Glen Burnie.

The community finally got a mall to call its own in 1987 when Marley Station opened on Ritchie Highway on the border of Glen Burnie and Pasadena, Mr. Halgas said.

Rose O'Connell, 82, has lived in Pasadena since 1959 in a home her husband built. The couple raised four children there.

Mrs. O'Connell said she remembers when there "wasn't even house upon house" in Pasadena and her children could easily reach the Magothy River, to fish and crab.

She has spent a good chunk of her life, 36 years, working at Angel's Food Market, one of the first stores in Pasadena. It was an oyster-shell-paved Mountain Road when the store was built in 1923.

Locals consider the store, now run by the Clocker family, something of a landmark.

Its exterior has a modern facade. A step inside, though, reminds one of a small-town general store of a bygone time.

Walter G. Clocker, 33, grew up in the family business. As a boy, he helped sort green tomatoes from red ones, shucked corn and bagged groceries.

Mr. Clocker said the family started modernizing the store about two years ago, though some old customers fear that might cost the shop its quaint, hometown feel.

Customers from Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia come to Angel's for potato salad, cole slaw and other salads made from his grandmother's recipe.

And on Christmas Eve, he said, people start lining up outside the store at 8 a.m. to buy the salads.

As do other businesses in the community, Angel's supports various community and school activities.

And, Mr. Halgas says, "if anything sets [Pasadena] apart from other communities, it's community involvement."

PASADENA

Population: 51,356 (1990 Census)

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes

Commuting time to downtown Washington: 55 minutes

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