Patapsco greenway planning will proceed Panel to continue its work despite residents' fears about pollution, crowding

October 07, 1998|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

Despite protests from community members concerned about pollution and crowding, plans to link the historic and natural resources of towns along the Patapsco River in Baltimore and Howard counties remain on track.

Residents will get other chances to offer input at yet-to-be-scheduled community meetings in the next several weeks, said Deana D. Rhodeside, a consultant hired by Patapsco Heritage Greenway Committee to develop a plan for the proposed network of trails along the greenway.

Charles L. Wagandt, a member of the Patapsco committee and its unofficial spokesman, said he is not overly concerned about residents' complaints aired at an open house Monday night at the Trolley Stop in Oella.

"I certainly believe we will work through this," he said. He said Monday's meeting was the first committee-sponsored open house and that plans for a heritage greenway are still conceptual.

Rhodeside said she plans to seek more resident input in the next several weeks before drawing a more detailed plan and holding a second open house late next month or in early December. She expects to complete a final plan by spring.

The Patapsco committee -- made up of businessmen, historians, environmentalists and politicians -- was formed years ago to preserve the historic and natural treasures of the Patapsco Valley.

Last fall, the Maryland Historical Trust recognized the greenway as a Maryland State Heritage area. To complete the next step to certification, the committee hired a consultant team, led by Rhode-side, to develop a proposal for the greenway.

The plan, which would take about 10 years to complete, is to link the trails of riverside towns in Baltimore and Howard counties and form a living classroom of historical sites along the river.

"One of the objects is to improve the quality of life for the general area," Wagandt said. "There will always be some people who do not want any kind of change."

About 100 people showed up at the Patapsco committee's open house to criticize the project. They expressed concerns about crowding in towns such as historic Ellicott City and residential Relay, and pollution of the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay.

"They are not going to be able to keep this confined from Ellicott City to Relay," said Larry Meyer, an Ellicott City resident who objects to the greenway plans. "In years to come, if we don't modify this plan now, it is, I think, going to destroy the river systems."

Toward the end of the meeting, Marsha McLaughlin, deputy director of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning, agreed to distribute more information about the greenway in area libraries to encourage more input. If necessary, she said, greenway plans will be delayed.

McLaughlin said yesterday that waiting could have negative consequences at the state level. Although no deadline has been set to submit plans for funding, she said, the Patapsco greenway project might be more likely to benefit if submitted "sooner rather than later."

"We will take what time we need," she said. "I don't look at this as being fatal. It shows we have a lot more community work that needs to be done."

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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