Plans to fence in Hollander Ridge killed HUD officials refuse to help city, county pay for the project

August 28, 1996|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Plans for a controversial fence around the Hollander Ridge housing complex have been scrapped after federal housing officials refused to help fund it, a city housing official announced yesterday.

"We thought originally that it would be a good idea to build a fence around the complex," said Daniel P. Henson III, commissioner of the Baltimore Housing Authority. "[Baltimore] County residents asked us to, and the Hollander Ridge folks agreed that the fence was a good idea. As we derive a better plan for Hollander Ridge, many of the problems will be solved and a fence will not be needed."

Under a plan being drafted by city and county officials, the complex near the junction of Interstate 95 and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway would be converted to a senior citizens community, said Michael Davis, spokesman for County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger III.

After residents in Rosedale -- in Baltimore County just across the city-county line from Hollander Ridge -- complained about rising crime and decreased property values in their middle-class neighborhood, city and county officials agreed to help pay for an 8-foot-high wrought-iron fence.

A collapsing chain-link fence surrounding parts of Hollander Ridge now serves as the only divider between the two communities.

In February 1996, an elderly Rosedale woman was slain in her home, and residents' calls for protection increased.

But the new fence, expected to cost between $700,000 and $1.7 million, was viewed as a costly and divisive solution. Officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has helped fund Hollander Ridge improvement efforts since 1994, told city officials it would not help pay for the fence, Henson said.

Opponents of the fence, which would have had curved posts to bTC deter people from climbing over it, argued that it would merely contain crime in the housing complex rather than help alleviate the roots of the problems.

"We did not need a fence around here," said Margo T. Carter, a seven-year Hollander Ridge resident on Bob Hendrickson Court. "We're already locked in here as it is. What is this, a prison?"

Specific plans for changes at the housing project are not available, Davis said, adding that residents' suggestions will be considered. It has not been determined whether Hollander Ridge will be converted to a community for the elderly or whether current residents who are not elderly will be required to move, he said.

Housing officials said conversion plans are preliminary, but any changes would be aimed at increasing the safety of Hollander Ridge and Rosedale residents, Davis said.

City and county housing officials have scheduled meetings for this week to settle on a proposal to be submitted to HUD by Sept. 10, Davis said.

Many residents in both communities said they supported plans to build a fence.

"What is it going to take for them to do something about this situation?" said Gisella Frisone, a 26-year Rosedale resident. "We don't need a little fence; we need a 20-foot wall out here. Our windows have been shot out three times. I am very unhappy about this."

A 66-year-old Hollander Ridge resident had mixed feelings about the decision.

"I wanted that fence built because the people on the county side were having problems from over here," said Clarence Taylor. "But it would have been a temporary measure. Basically, it comes down to parents teaching their children to respect property and respect other people."

HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros is expected to decide on the future of Hollander Ridge by the end of October, Henson said.

Pub Date: 8/28/96

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