Tenants try to prevent demolition of apartments Residents of Savoy East in Randallstown plan appeal to County Council

May 04, 1998|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Hoping to persuade Baltimore County officials to spare their apartment complex from the wrecking ball, residents of Savoy East in Randallstown have mounted a petition drive and plan to appeal to the County Council this month.

"I have hope we can persuade them not to do this," said Glenn Roberts, a senior citizen who has lived at Savoy East for 14 years and says he has spent close to $2,500 improving his two-bedroom unit. "I ain't in no position to try to move."

County officials said Friday that they are moving to buy the complex for $650,000 and raze the 66 units to make way for a public park. County Council Chairman Stephen G. Sam Moxley said he expects the deal to be completed by the end of the month.

The officials said they want to eliminate Savoy East, just south of Old Court Road off Liberty Road, because of crime, drugs and an excess of low-income housing units in that area.

Savoy's 38 tenants will be moved this summer, the officials said.

"I can understand how people can be apprehensive, but we should be judged when the process is over," said Michael H. Davis, an aide to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who proposed the demolition in his 1999 budget.

"We can understand why people wouldn't want to move, but we have to look at the greater good for the community," Davis said. "We're planning to go forward."

The complex has been the scene of trouble for years, although Wallace H. Campbell & Co., which manages it, has spent $2,000 a month on private security to patrol the area since taking over in June, said manager Theresa White. The company manages the complex for Regal Savings Bank, which purchased it last summer from Michael Kermisch.

In 1996, a community group, the Stevenswood Community Association, spent $3,300 to erect a 60-foot-long fence to block a popular shortcut for children walking from the Savoy apartments to Winfield Elementary School. Students might have been responsible for some of the car and house break-ins, trampled flowers beds, stolen newspapers and graffiti, said Ella White Campbell the association president at the time.

Those problems are gone, Theresa White said.

"It's cleaned up a lot; it's quiet out here," White said last week. "We don't have a problem anymore. When I first came, there was a problem. I wouldn't move in. Now, I'd live here."

Nearly half of the units -- which rent from $405 to $595 a month -- are vacant after problem tenants were evicted, she said. Of the occupied units, about half of the 38 tenants receive federal Section 8 rent subsidies.

Savoy tenant Agnes McNulty, who is not a Section 8 recipient and pays $325 for a one-bedroom unit under a lease signed before Wallace H. Campbell & Co. took over the management, said she will have to move in with her sister in Pikesville if the complex closes.

"I'm a senior citizen on a fixed income," she said. "It's horrendous. I cannot afford a more expensive apartment.

Anywhere else, a one-bedroom will cost $500 per month."

Campbell said the county's purchase of Savoy East and its demolition of the complex is in the best interest of the neighborhood.

"It's important that we conserve our open space," Campbell said. "One of the problems with having overcrowding is that you do not provide open space for kids to play, and that's important to a child's well-being. With ball fields over there, we can curb some juvenile delinquency and develop wholesome activities for children."

Pub Date: 5/04/98

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