Harford's choice on center goes against people's willI...


June 20, 1998

Harford's choice on center goes against people's will

I have had many dealings with Eileen M. Rehrmann during the past 13 years. She has helped me in the past on issues dear to my heart. I hate having to write this letter now.

I have to respond to Ms. Rehrmann's letter in the Saturday Mailbox ("Harford picked the best among its options for senior-youth center," June 13).

Ms. Rehrmann states that she has "proposed an innovative facility that will combine our Bel Air senior center and the Bel Air youth center while balancing environmental concerns." Well, the citizens of Harford County beg to differ.

If she put it to the people, she would find out that she is losing votes over this issue. Citizens of Harford County are fed up with uncontrolled growth.

We are trying to save the last 10 acres of woods left in Bel Air.

These woods, known as the Wakefield Woods, have for years been used for environmental studies by the high schools.

Citizens have complained to county government about the overdevelopment of our area for years. Representatives in government have said growth was beyond their control, that all this development was in the "20-year plan."

Well, here is a situation where they have control.

Local government could recycle a building. It could buy a piece of property that is already developed. It could prove to people that it cares about the environment and the quality of life in Bel Air and surrounding areas.

If there were 30 other possible sites, choosing the only one with a forest -- a "deep woods" -- shows a lack of respect and consideration for the environment.

If the environment comes in 31st on Eileen Rehrmann's list of priorities, where will the Chesapeake Bay be found?

The majority of citizens who want a senior-youth center do not want it at the expense of the environment. Do not demolish Wakefield Woods.

inda Koplovitz

Bel Air

The writer is a candidate for Harford County Council.

The Bel Air senior-youth center issue is not about location. It is about how we think about our future and about "smart growth." Every need of seniors and youth can be met at numerous other cleared sites, several with vacant buildings and parking lots.

We are about to enter the 21st century, and our county executive continues to follow 18th-century practices. She acts as if we still possess the forests, wildlife, clean air and clean water that Henry Harford and John Carroll took for granted.

If Eileen Rehrmann acknowledges that more than 30 sites were considered for the center, why did she select the only one with a 100-year-old forest -- what environmental scientists call a deep woods -- that supports a small but vital ecosystem?

This same site is used by students from four schools who walk to this rare natural laboratory that cannot be replaced by a videotape or lecture.

Could Ms. Rehrmann's selection reveal that the environment and education are 31st and 32nd on her list of priorities?

Her administration is pressuring the Harford County Board of Education to transfer its land for free.

This pressure threatens the independence of the local Board of Education to act in the best interests of the students of Harford County.

This Harford County issue reveals much about the future importance of education and the environment in Maryland.

Patrick T. Wilson

Bel Air Despite kids being killed by gunfire, a realist must believe that our society is not going to follow the wisdom of older societies.

It will not limit guns to the police and target ranges. Gunfire is too much a part of the American scene, so we must look for another remedy for the problem. The remedy is mandatory insurance.

The National Rifle Association neatly sidesteps the problem with its palaver about it being people, not guns, that kill.

People, worst of all kids, are maimed and killed by people with guns in their hands. And after that happens, there is no compensation.

Although guns are at least as dangerous as cars, no pool of money can compensate the families of victims or the victims themselves when they survive. Few gun owners have the money to satisfy a judgment for the harm they have done, so victims rarely waste time and money suing them.

The same would be true for automobile victims, but most states have a system that requires people who own cars and put them on the highway to have insurance. Why not the same for people who keep firearms?

Most gun deaths are, like car deaths, a result of negligence. That includes keeping a gun where a youngster can get hold of it, accidentally firing it at someone when it was not supposed to be loaded, accidentally shooting a fellow hunter and so forth.

Locking up every criminal in the United States, as the NRA well knows, would not eliminate gun deaths and injuries because most of them are not at the hands of criminals.

Many, if not most, people who murder using guns, and thus become criminals, weren't criminals before that.

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