Archway to mark town's center

Brick structure signals start of resurgence of community, leaders say

July 13, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

In the search for the area's limits, one thing is certain: The intersection of Ritchie Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard is definitely in Glen Burnie.

"You don't get any more Glen Burnie than this," said Mike Phennicie, president of North County Chamber of Commerce, at yesterday's groundbreaking ceremony for a brick arch, inspired by St. Louis' giant metal arch, that will mark the entrance to the new "town center."

While the Glen Burnie Logo Park Civic Sign Commission is pondering where to put signs that mark the beginning and end of Glen Burnie, determining the center of town was simple: It is the intersection near Arundel Center North and Anne Arundel Community College's branch office. Everyone agreed that the brick "Welcome to Glen Burnie" sign the Boy Scouts built several years ago was the heart of town.

"The sign issue, it has not been resolved yet," said Joe Corcoran, commission treasurer. "And maybe it never will be."

Corcoran suspects that Glen Burnie is bordered on the east by Marley, on the west by Ferndale, on the north by Eighth Avenue and on the south by Harundale. But where exactly does Glen Burnie end and Marley begin? And where on Eighth Avenue does one enter Glen Burnie? Corcoran, a longtime Glen Burnie resident, laughs and can't say for sure.

But he knows the 30-foot-wide, 9-foot-high arch that will be built around the current brick welcoming sign is the center of town. Construction, which will begin within a few weeks, should be completed by December, local officials say. Politicians including Dels. John R. Leopold and Mary Ann Love, County Council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. and Vice Chairwoman Pamela G. Beidle gathered on a grassy spot at the intersection yesterday as cars and trucks whizzed by and the overhead roar of planes made it difficult to hear the speeches.

"This has been a long time coming," said state Sen. James E. DeGrange Jr. "This project has come from a wooden sign on Ritchie Highway to this. [The architect] has said he was looking for it to be the gateway to Glen Burnie, and that it will be."

Lance Edwards designed the arch, which will include plaques honoring several Glen Burnie service organizations, in an Anne Arundel Community College class. His was one of 15 entries in a competition the commission sponsored.

"I did a little research on this," said Edwards, 26, who lives in Glen Burnie and graduated from Glen Burnie High School. "I looked at what was done in other cities and I was inspired by the St. Louis arch, which is supposed to be the gateway to the West. The arch here is meant to symbolize the gateway into the community."

And that is what many residents want: a symbol of their hometown, once a bustling area of stores and neighborhoods that splintered when Harundale Mall, the first enclosed mall on the East Coast, opened and forced smaller merchants out of business. Community activists and politicians have planned for years to revitalize the business district with new stores, an ice rink and amphitheater. It is unclear when construction on those projects will begin.

Town officials say the cost of the arch -- about $20,000 -- will be paid by local merchants.

Pub Date: 7/13/99

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