Growth fuels fears in Freetown

Residents plead to preserve name

builder open to ideas

August 22, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The small Glen Burnie neighborhood of Freetown has always been more than a place to live to its residents. Homeowners have regarded it as hallowed ground, a destination for runaway slaves in the mid-1800s who bought land there, and a refuge from a segregated society during the next century.

But for 20 years, community members have watched the historic African-American town shrink as residents have sold property to developers.

Surrounding areas

Now the community is encircled by subdivisions, including Sun Valley, Timberglade and Shannon Square.

Ware said the community is right to worry about losing its identity.

"Freetown isn't some name picked out of the sky," Ware said. "There are deep roots there, and it's got a great history.

"It's partly the community's responsibility to let developers know that this is important to them and it still stands for something today."

The developers of Mountain Valley said they're willing to consider other names.

"We'd be very open to anything that might fit the area better," said Patricia Baldwin, a vice president of the Baldwin Corp.

The name of a subdivision typically changes during the development process, she said.

"We usually try to find a name that fits the history," Baldwin said.

A close call

Caldwell-Walker remembers that Freetown Elementary School almost lost its name in the 1970s when residents of the Sun Valley development lobbied for the name Sun Valley Elementary.

"The people in Freetown petitioned against it and were able to save the name of the school," she said. "They had worked too hard for it."

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