Content community will not be ignored Folks like their creek, mall, own exit sign, and one another, too

Neighborhood profile: Marley

October 05, 1997|By Bonita Formwalt | Bonita Formwalt,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A sign beside the Arundel Expressway alerts motorists that they are approaching a community that demands respect.

Next exit -- Marley.

For the northern Anne Arundel community of Marley, it is an exit sign that symbolizes the spirit of a community that will not be dismissed. It is a story that still evokes a smile of satisfaction from Margaret Brown.

A resident of Marley for 42 years, Brown remembers the period after the opening of the extension to the Arundel Expressway in 1989.

"When the construction was over, the county put up an exit sign for Glen Burnie and for Sun Valley," recalled Brown. "Marley was the first neighborhood off the exit. You have to drive through Marley to get to Sun Valley, but there wasn't any way to know that from the signs."

While other communities might have shrugged off the slight, the neighbors in Marley started to make phone calls and write letters.

They got the sign.

A working-class neighborhood that traces its roots back to 1731, Marley is a busy community alive with constant activity -- teen-agers swimming in backyard pools, budding young athletes their way to football practice, retired couples lounging on their porches.

It would be a good guess that many of the drivers are on their way to a shopping center. Easy access to two major malls, dozens of specialty stores and shopping plazas is a major selling point for the community.

"Oh yes, it's a shoppers' heaven around here. Just down the street is Ritchie Highway and every store imaginable," Brown said with a laugh.

The opening of Marley Station was a joyous day for Helen Lawrence. Visiting the mall on Saturdays is a family activity for Lawrence, who takes along her daughter, Sharon Lenoir, and granddaughters Heather and Elizabeth.

Lawrence and her husband, Tom, now deceased, moved to Marley in 1965 to be closer to his job as a manager at Pep Boys. They raised two children on a quiet cul-de-sac off Marley Neck Road.

Lenoir lives across Marley Creek in Glen Burnie and her son, Jim, lives in Florida.

For years, Lawrence has talked about moving to Florida, but the roots she has in Marley have delayed her move again and again. She's not ready to leave home.

"I have such good neighbors here; they watch out for you," Lawrence said. "I have a neighbor who called last night to see if I was all right, because I had left a light on in the house that I normally turn off before I go to sleep. He was worried about me."

The proximity of shopping, schools and activities is one reason that Jack and Sheila Sikes came to Marley.

Moving from Texas seven years ago, the Sikeses were looking for a home close to schools for their children, Amanda and Bobby. A split level less than three blocks from Marley Elementary and Marley Middle schools was the answer. They never regretted their decision.

"It was a good place for my children to grow up. There were always lots of kids for them to play with," said Sheila Sikes.

And places to go.

"Oh sure, the kids really like it here. In five minutes they can find a fast-food place, a mall or a movie," she said.

As the children grew, the Sikes family also took advantage of the recreational activities available, including baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and football as well as boating, fishing and crabbing on Marley Creek.

The proximity of Marley Creek has longed served to define the community. In the early 1800s, farmers used the waterway to ferry their produce to Baltimore for sale. Later, the creek served as a similar transportation route for Johnson Lumber Yard and Sawmill.

Until 1910, steamboats routinely ferried passengers to the city.

The cooling waters drew "summer people" from the city, swelling the population during July and August. By World War I, transportation advances made employment in Baltimore accessible enough that year-round residency grew. Even today, many of the waterfront homes reflect evidence of the unique architecture style resulting from additions made to accommodate year-round living.

Throughout the years, development of the surrounding areas produced the ultimate paradox. The waterfront community was no longer accessible by boat.

Silt accumulation made parts of the waterway impassable for large boats. Marley Creek was closed to recreational swimming in 1978.

Again the community rose to the challenge. Local environmentalists came together to salvage the waterway. Development was slowed in the area until a dredging agreement was fulfilled last spring. With the creek restored to depths that allow natural irrigation, the community waits for nature to repair the damage made by progress.

As they wait, residents enjoy the strengths that drew them to the neighborhood in the first place -- good neighbors, convenience, commitment to the community.

That's Marley. Second exit on your right.


Population: 6,572

ZIP code: 21060

Public schools: Marley Elementary, Marley Middle, Marley Glen Special School, Glen Burnie Senior High.

Shopping: Marley Station, Glen Burnie Mall, several strip shopping centers along Ritchie Highway.

Points of interest: Marley Creek

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 30 minutes

Average price of single-family home: $98,792*

* Based on nine sales in the last 12 months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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