Riding the suburban sprawl gravy trainSuburban sprawl is...


September 15, 1996

Riding the suburban sprawl gravy train

Suburban sprawl is going to continue until we run out of space to sprawl because both politicians and residents like it.

1.) Residential development means temporary construction and supply jobs and new residents to pay property and income taxes -- increasing the tax revenues while postponing or reducing the costs (schools, welfare) for current residents (voters). Poor folks don't buy new houses in suburbs.

2.) Commercial sprawl means construction jobs, more permanent jobs for local residents and no social services to provide -- increasing the tax revenues with no increased taxes for current residents (voters) and little or no increased costs.

Eventually, of course, it all catches up. It is only a matter of time (but probably years) before most of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area ends up like Baltimore City. Just look at what's happening in the oldest areas of Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties (the oldest suburbs in the area) and the outlying areas of New York-New Jersey and Los Angeles. They just got a head start on us.

The answer is to make the city and older areas of the surrounding counties so attractive that people will want to live there. To do that, you need to make the streets and schools clean and safe and you need to offer a public school education, as good as any in the nearby counties. But the city's too poor to do it. The sad fact is that as long as the rest of us can ride the suburban sprawl gravy train, we don't really care and our politicians merely reflect what we want.

Anita Heygster


Assessment from a real football fan

Dear, dear Mike Littwin, please grow up. Not all 65,000 fans at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 1 were drunk. Let's see, there was my 8-year-old son, my husband and myself who were not even drinking. Not to mention several fans around me. Yes, we were all acting crazy. It isn't every day you get an inaugural football game after waiting 12 years for a team.

Sounds to me like you shouldn't have wasted your time by going to the game. Let me say that when I found it necessary to go to the stands or bathrooms, it was packed like a sardine can. I did not witness one person being nasty to another individual. Sounds strange with all the pushing and shoving that was going on. Maybe you need to be a real football fan to enjoy the game.

Rhonda Stewart

Glen Burnie

SOV should be a dirty word

David Winstead, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, in his August 26 letter, "Roads can control urban sprawl," overlooks a basic bias of his department in favor of highway construction over transportation needs.

Over the years, MDT has spent billions on a transportation system for the single-occupancy vehicle, but relatively little for the transit rider and almost nothing for pedestrians and bicyclists. In Anne Arundel County, the average vehicle on the highway has only 1.09 people in it. The Maryland highway system was and apparantly will continue to be built for the SOV.

For example, MDT is urging the federal government to spend $75 million to rebuild 1.5 miles of Route 32 at Fort Meade because this spot causes two-minute delays for the mostly single-occupancy vehicle traffic between Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Yet, MDT does not provide for bus service between Annapolis and Columbia. It has no public transportation between the nation's capital and Annapolis on weekends. It recently decreased by about 30 percent the number of bus riders between Annapolis and Washington, by doubling the fare from $1 to $2.

The highway has caused urban sprawl by trying to make it convenient for the SOV commuter to drive between his job and his suburban home. This has also created commuter traffic gridlock. In off-hours, the suburbanite cannot safely walk, jog or bicycle safely between neighborhoods because MDT rarely provides sidewalks or crosswalks along its highways.

In our dangerous transportation system, people who hate commuter traffic, poor drivers, the elderly, the ill, the drugged and alcoholic-impaired, can't take a bus, walk or bicycle to their jobs. They must drive.

John W. Baer


Christians, lions and County Council

I attended a meeting on Sept. 3. It had the feel of a grade-school play rehearsal but was in fact an Anne Arundel County Council meeting.

The residents voiced their concerns with passion and conviction. The councilmen and councilwoman sat in their high-back chairs on their elevated platform, yawning, talking and reading. They asked no questions and showed little concern or interest in what the citizens had to say. I was reminded of the Romans eating grapes and drinking wine high above the Christians and lions.

The residents of Forest Glen, a Pasadena community, do not want a commercial 15-bed, who-knows-what built in their community.

Tom Redmond, our county representative, states that people only come forward when it is about their backyard.

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