Balto. County sets agenda for legislature

School projects, road improvements, recreation centers head the 1999 list

January 05, 1999|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County children would learn and play in refurbished schools and in new recreation centers -- and their parents would spend less time stuck in traffic -- if county officials have their way in the General Assembly session.

In unveiling the county's 1999 legislative agenda yesterday, County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger called for legislators to approve nearly $37 million for construction and maintenance of schools, $600,000 for two Police Athletic League recreation centers in northwest Baltimore County and more than $50 million for road improvements.

The key transportation request is for a 3-mile extension of White Marsh Boulevard (Route 43), a long-sought project that officials say would open up tracts of eastern Baltimore County to economic development.

Also, Ruppersberger is seeking state aid to improve traffic flow at the busy Interstate 695 interchanges at Reisterstown Road and Liberty Road and for a new interchange on the Northwest Expressway (Interstate 795) and Pleasant Hill Road.

Other requests include $1.5 million to complete the second phase of Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville, and $800,000 toward construction of a gymnasium at Hannah More School in Reisterstown.

Legislation on fugitives

The county also is asking for state legislation to allow its police to arrest fugitives outside county borders.

In what has become an annual ritual, Ruppersberger said the legislative package is a reasonable request to address real needs, and as such should receive a favorable review from state lawmakers.

"It's the right agenda," he said, as he outlined his package before a gathering of elected officials and county government officials at Towson University. "We're just asking for our fair share, based on the population of the county and the needs of our citizens.

"As long as we maintain our teamwork approach and focus on the basics and don't get greedy, we feel we'll be successful."

For the first time in nearly three decades, the county delegation will head to Annapolis without F. Vernon Boozer, a moderate Republican whose role as Senate minority leader helped give the county influence -- but who lost his bid for re-election last fall.

Key legislative positions

Ruppersberger said the delegation still includes a number of lawmakers who hold key positions in the Assembly, which opens Jan. 13. And Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, a Democrat who represents the northwest county, said: "Our reputation now proceeds us. Because we understand the needs of other jurisdictions, and we don't act piggy, we'll do well."

Ruppersberger said the county will have to compete for money against such demands as road improvements in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

Requests in the legislative package include:

$36.9 million in school construction money.

While receiving nearly $80 million in school construction money the past four years, the county centered its efforts on building schools. With enrollment expected to level off, this year's request focuses on major repairs such as roof replacements, wiring for computers, renovated science labs, heating and electrical systems and new windows and water pipes. Most of these projects are requested for elementary schools.

School officials have asked the county to pay nearly $96 million toward the repairs. Last month, the state Interagency Committee on School Construction gave preliminary approval for $17.8 million of the requested state funds. Ruppersberger has said that Gov. Parris N. Glendening promised before last fall's election that the county would receive at least $30 million in school construction money.

Route 43 extension

Up to $53 million in state money for the White Marsh Boulevard extension.

The project, with a price tag of up to $65 million in state and county money, would connect U.S. 40 to Eastern Boulevard in Middle River. Officials say it would mean up to 10,000 jobs and as much as $13 million in tax revenue in coming decades by allowing industrial development at properties such as the 1,000-acre A. V. Williams tract. Just days before the election, Glendening promised in writing to speed up construction of the road.

Also, the county is seeking $2.7 million for engineering and land acquisition to improve the Beltway interchange at Reisterstown Road, and is asking that the improvements to the Liberty Road interchange and a Pleasant Hill Road interchange on the Northwest Expressway be added to the state's transportation plan.

$600,000 in matching state funds for PAL centers at Scotts Branch and Winfield Elementary schools.

Half the cost of a $1.6 million gymnasium at the nonprofit Hannah More School, which would be used by the school during school hours and by the county recreation department evenings and weekends. Hannah More, a school for emotionally troubled children, would pay the other half, county officials said.

Designation of 1,500 acres in the Long Green Valley and 5,400 acres near the Gunpowder River as plans eligible for conservation easements under the state's Rural Legacy Program.

Pub Date: 1/05/99

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