Residents want improvements at Reisterstown Plaza subway Appearances matter, transit officials agree

April 15, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Skeptics may shrug at holly, ivy and brighter colors to dress up a drab subway station, but all those suggestions surfaced at bTC meeting held to discuss ways to improve Reisterstown Plaza Metro.

Riders and residents registered distress with the way the subway station looks during the April 3 meeting at Northwestern High School.

Sympathetic to the complaints, state officials plan to incorporate community concerns in future metro designs.

"People were very upset with the quality of the walking experience" as they approach and leave the station, said urban planner Anton Nelessen, hired by the state to survey the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood's views.

Nelessen, who owns a company in Princeton, N.J., said generally that people see the Reisterstown Plaza station as a "brutal concrete structure." Indeed, he said it was influenced by the 1960s architectural style known as "Brutalism."

The nearly 100 people who attended the meeting, about half of them nearby residents, complained that sidewalks to the station are too narrow and dirty. The station is used by more than 2,000 riders every weekday and is one of the busiest in the system.

Construction of a 100-child day care center and a city police substation near the subway station will be completed by September, Ron Freeland, administrator of the Maryland Mass Transit Administration, told residents.

The Reisterstown Plaza meeting was the second of 12 "quality community surveys" that will be conducted throughout Maryland this year, including Annapolis, Salisbury and Rockville. The cost of the surveys, financed with federal funds, is $110,000, according to MTA spokesman Anthony Brown.

The aim is to use ideas generated from the surveys for future designs. "The big concept is livable communities," Brown said.

The recent meeting showed that residents near Reisterstown Plaza Metro "want more greenery to make it more inviting to walk to the station," he said. People also pointed to the roughly 30 acres of vacant land surrounding the station as a blight and suggested that it be used for multifamily housing and small retail shops, Nelessen said.

Those who run the trains and stations agree that appearances matter.

Maryland Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead said making the mass transit system more "aesthetically pleasing" is one way to draw drivers out of their cars.

Nelessen, author of a 1994 book, "Visions for a New American Dream," was more emphatic. "You've got to make walking pleasant to make public transit successful," he said.

Pub Date: 4/15/97

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