Brooklyn Park's future Revived group could help lead revitalization of urban suburb.

April 08, 1997

AS ONE OF Anne Arundel's oldest urban centers, Brooklyn Park never quite recovered from a round of inadequate, misguided zoning decisions by the County Council following World War II.

Adopted between 1949 and 1952 without benefit of a master plan, those decisions led to hodge-podge development of that community just south of Baltimore City. Now that many of the commercial and residential properties erected then are showing their age, many residents have the impression their neighborhood is deteriorating.

Brooklyn Park activists deserve support for their effort to revive an umbrella group of neighborhood associations that folded about a decade ago. They plan to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Arundel Improvement Association Hall, 705 Cross Street.

Brooklyn Park's proximity to the city gives it its share of urban problems: crime, drugs, prostitution, absentee landlords, vacant storefronts. "It's been a gradual eroding of the community, and something has to be done about it," said Frances Jones, president of the Arundel Improvement Association. "There's nothing but dilapidated buildings" along Ritchie Highway.

This is the time for the various organizations in Brooklyn Park to speak in one voice. The list of concerns is nearly endless, ranging from traffic problems to aging water mains and other infrastructure needs.

One important function for the new umbrella group would be to help polish Brooklyn Park's self-image. Because the community and its amenities are aging, many old-timers talk wistfully about the good old days. That period presumably was in the 1950s, when GIs had returned from the war, found jobs plentiful and began sharing some of the fruits of increasingly suburbanizing America. A symbol of good life was the opening of a new Food Fair supermarket at Ritchie Highway and Hammonds Lane in 1961. Shoppers traveled great distances to enjoy its dazzling variety.

Glitzy supermarkets, and a few other things, bypassed Brooklyn Park in later years. Whether the good old days were as good as some remember is beside the point: The important first step to revitalization is for the community again to adopt a forward-looking attitude.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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