County may refuse grants to mend stream Officials fear deadline for project couldn't be met

September 15, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

.TC Carroll County may cut off the state and federal grants that are paying a large share of the $600,000 cost to restore Longwell Run, a Westminster stream whose banks have been gouged for years by tons of water that pour in during heavy rainstorms.

County officials are balking at accepting $113,000 in state and federal grants because they fear that Carroll does not have the manpower or resources to meet deadlines for completing the work.

But even if the Board of County Commissioners refuses the money it had requested to carry the project through December 1998, county officials say they are committed to restoring the stream.

"It doesn't mean the projects would not be done. They'd just be done one at a time using other funding sources," said Catherine M. Rappe, water resources bureau chief. She said the county could apply for other state grants for small-scale projects.

But if the county seeks other grants to complete the work a little at a time, Carroll would have to pay a larger share of the costs, Longwell Run project manager Laura Moran said.

Alleviating flood damage at two local businesses would cost the county $8,000 under the current grant, but would cost $30,000 if the county had to pay 50 percent of the cost under another state grant program, Moran said.

The commissioners plan to consult county Budget Director Steven D. Powell before deciding whether to refuse the grants.

The 1.7-mile stream starts near Route 140 and Gorsuch Road and flows northwest to Route 27, where it is joined by a branch that flows north from John Street. The merged stream then turns northeast and joins the West Branch of the Patapsco River.

A 1994 consultant's evaluation of Longwell Run concluded that storm-water runoff left stream banks "badly eroded throughout. Many banks are undercut, creating bank instability that has resulted in tree falls and blockages at many locations."

County Environmental Services Administrator James E. Slater Jr. has recommended that the commissioners refuse the $113,000 in grants for 1998 because "we had to design [projects], get permits, build them in one year. We just don't have that many people." He said the staff wants to focus on other areas of the county.

"This was the dirtiest stream in the state of Maryland, and here you are doing half the job and going off to do something else," Commissioner Donald I. Dell told Slater at a meeting last week. "If you're going to do it, do it."

The county has received $171,000 that paid most of the cost of a storm-water management pond in Dutterer Park on Winter Street and stream restoration now under way on South Center Street adjacent to the County Office Building. Westminster contributed and the county put in $19,050.

Stabilizing the stream banks at Crouse Ford Sales Inc. in the 400 block of Baltimore Blvd., reducing flooding at Stew's Automotive in the 300 block of Gorsuch Road, and possible stream restoration near 84 Lumber Co. in the 300 block of Manchester Road would be jeopardized by rejection of the grants.

Previously authorized grants will pay for creating a wetland along the stream near East Middle School and retrofitting a storm-water management pond and repairing erosion on the Carroll County Times property at 201 Railroad Ave. Those projects will be finished in six to eight months, Rappe said.

Existing grants also cover information and education and environmentally sensitive landscaping, she said.

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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