Southeastern county projects touted Ruppersberger details $146 million investment

September 05, 1997|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF

Southeastern Baltimore County's infrastructure -- roads, sewers, sidewalks, alleys, parks and schools -- will benefit from more than $146 million in investment by the end of the century for community conservation and revitalization of the economically hard-hit area.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger gave the progress report yesterday to about 100 community and business representatives at Dundalk Community College. It came two days after a similar session at University of Maryland, Baltimore County in which he reported on the $46 million being spent on such improvements in the southwestern section, including Catonsville, Arbutus and Relay.

When he was elected in 1994, Ruppersberger -- who is expected to seek re-election next year -- promised to concentrate on revitalizing older communities. The two meetings were intended to show how he is keeping his word.

The southeastern work he outlined for the audience yesterday included:

$96.8 million for road resurfacing and construction; sewer, water,

storm drain and alley construction; shoreline enhancement and dredging, stream restoration, and curb and gutter rebuilding.

$14.9 million for recreation centers and park improvements.

$34.8 million for school replacement, additions and repairs.

In his remarks, Ruppersberger pledged to continue to maintain the infrastructure as the basis for a quality life in the neighborhoods.

Southeastern and southwestern Baltimore County, the most industrialized sections of the county, have suffered from neglect for decades.

Jobs disappeared with the decline of industry at such places as Bethlehem Steel's plant and shipyard at Sparrows Point and Lockheed Martin Corp. in Middle River. Older communities deteriorated with the spread of housing into undeveloped areas of the northeast and northwest.

Ruppersberger spokesman Michael H. Davis said the east side is getting more money because it is larger and has more environmental concerns than other parts of the county. It contains the county's shoreline, which accounts for the dredging and storm water projects.

The progress report was presented, Davis said, "because we have an obligation to report what we're doing with taxpayers' money." Also, he said, it is a "marketing tool to show people that it's a good place to live."

Ruppersberger said that in fiscal years 1995 to 1998, the county has allocated $81 million from operating funds to the capital budget, $23 million more than had been committed from that source during the previous 10 years.

The county has increased borrowing for capital improvement projects, but officials noted that the county pays a low interest rate because of its AAA bond rating, the highest it can receive.

Ruppersberger has cultivated ties with the county's General Assembly delegation, and the teamwork has brought $69 million in state aid for the infrastructure projects in the last three years, nearly double what was received during the previous four years.

State Sen. Michael J. Collins, an Essex Democrat who leads the county's senators, praised the revitalization work and pledged continued support for it in Annapolis.

Pub Date: 9/05/97

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