Commissioners on a roll After shaky start, this board is showing leadership on several fronts.

February 16, 1996

IN THE SPACE of a few weeks, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners has shown a refreshing change in direction. The three members have committed themselves to a number of creative solutions. More important, they are showing the stature and leadership that has been long overdue from the county's top elected officials.

Their most notable recent decision was a conscious effort to move beyond mere talk about managing growth. Bringing land-use professional Robert Freilich to Carroll to study and discuss long-range planning sharpened public focus on this subject. While many of Mr. Freilich's ideas and proposals have been offered before by others, his visit has injected a sense of urgency into the local process. The commissioners are capitalizing on that momentum and are moving smartly to develop a rational plan that will preserve Carroll's quality of life as the population grows.

The board's recent proposal to relocate school headquarters to the county-owned Winchester Building is another well-conceived response to what has been a vexing problem. Though difficulties with this idea remain -- such as the Circuit Court's need for more space -- it is an quantum improvement over an earlier misguided effort to convert a contaminated industrial site into a base for school operations.

Yet another suggestion floated by the commissioners -- to get Baltimore's new football team to come to Carroll for summer training camp -- may be the most telling indication that the commissioners, at last, are taking seriously the importance of economic development. After blowing an opportunity to host the Olympic bicycling trials last year, the commissioners have learned their lesson.

If the whatever-they're-called team trains in Carroll, the county could reap millions in economic spinoff, as Frostburg has enjoyed from the move of the Washington Redskins summer training camp to that Western Maryland town. Even if the courtship of Art Modell's team doesn't pan out, active pursuit of this opportunity sends the message that Carroll wants to be a player in economic development and wants to land new business. We've been steady critics of this board since it took office 15 months ago, but we hope these recent developments are a sign of good things to come.

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