Where can Eldersburg turn?

Carroll County: Merger with Sykesville unrealistic, South Carroll should consider incorporation.

March 21, 2000

IT'S LIKE trying to get a mouse to swallow an elephant.

That describes Eldersburg's problem, as it searches for a political voice through annexation into neighboring Sykesville.

The town of Sykesville, with one-eighth the size of unincorporated Eldersburg, has no interest or potential benefit in the merger. The town's problems would magnify beyond control, with the new citizenry dominating municipal decisions. The existing deficiencies of Eldersburg would be too much to handle in exchange for the dubious honor of becoming a larger city.

Not that the two communities don't share many of the same concerns about booming growth and inadequate public services in South Carroll. There's a tradition of cooperation in dealing with common problems.

The heart of the matter is that Eldersburg, with one-fifth of the Carroll County population, believes it gets no respect from the county government that decides its present and future.

Roads planned two decades earlier to handle the growth have not been built. Water bans are an annual summer affair, as promised facilities remain unbuilt. Ambulance and fire services are stretched so thin the volunteer departments say they can't handle the burden. The area's planning council has been systematically ignored by the county in making development decisions.

The alternative of incorporating as a new municipality is extremely difficult. A geographic area would have to be defined, with petitions signed by voters and property owners, and a referendum held. Incorporation also requires approval of the county, and two of the three commissioners do not favor the idea.

Nevertheless, repeated unsuccessful attempts in the past decade to seek union with Sykesville have demonstrated that Eldersburg must make its own way in achieving municipal status.

With a quarter of the income and registered voters, that is not an impossible goal -- if that is what the community actually wants.

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