No new state money expected But area legislators to seek toll collectors for light rail and back renewal project

January 03, 1996|By TaNoah V. Sterling and Kris Antonelli | TaNoah V. Sterling and Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Bringing urban renewal to a depressed area and getting toll collectors for local light rail stations are the goals of the 32nd District's state legislators this year. But there probably won't be any new state money for the area, state representatives said.

Republican state Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks said the Superblock urban renewal project is one of the most important and fastest-moving projects Glen Burnie may have this year.

The plan would take the last piece of undeveloped county-owned property in the Glen Burnie urban renewal district and make it a town center with an amphitheater, ice rink, shopping facilities and housing.

The county has been trying to develop the land for almost 20 years.

"I think [the county is] getting very close to awarding that project," said Mr. Middlebrooks, add ing that if all goes well, contractors could start work this year.

"That's a significant project," he said. "I think you're going to see a real revitalization in that area."

If the project goes through this year, Mr. Middlebrooks said it probably will do so without any additional money from the state.

He said he is planning to meet with County Executive John G. Gary next week, but doesn't expect Mr. Gary to seek any state money for Glen Burnie projects. The state legislative session begins Jan. 10.

Another item on Mr. Middlebrooks' agenda -- and one that also is important to Republican Del. Michael W. Burns -- is getting the Mass Transit Authority to pay for toll collectors on the light rail system.

"That's going to be a battle," Mr. Middlebrooks said. "I think the MTA is going to be opposed to it, but on every other transit system I ride in the country there's a toll collector."

Mr. Middlebrooks said toll collectors would help deter criminals from using light rail to commit crimes and would make residents and merchants feel better about having the system near their homes and businesses.

County police officials said crime on the system has decreased since they boosted the number of officers and patrols.

"If [the light rail] is going to be expanded, it's going to depend on if the people and the merchants feel it's secure," Mr. Middlebrooks said.

Del. Mary Ann Love, a Democrat, said she is working on a bill to require health maintenance organizations to pay for hospital emergency-room visits, even if doctors later determine that the situations were not life-threatening.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening vetoed similar legislation last year.

"This can be a real problem for senior citizens," she said.

Seniors are sent to hospitals if they become ill at nursing homes, she said. But if their illnesses are not serious, the patients get stuck with the bills, Ms. Love said.

"It's become a problem for the emergency rooms as to who will pay," she said.

Ms. Love said casino gambling probably would be hotly debated during this year's legislative session.

"Most of our district is against it," she said.

"A large coalition from Glen Burnie United Methodist Church has formed with about 300 members that will lobby against state-wide gambling."

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