Questions unanswered in plan for old school
I am surprised and somewhat perturbed by the tone of the article written by Childs Walker in the coverage of proposals received for the Old Hampstead Elementary School ("Hampstead council OKs building transfer," Aug. 16).
I was inappropriately characterized as a "petition toting resident" in a "last minute protest." It is my belief that if legitimate questions exist on a government project, that citizens have the right to first receive accurate answers before the project moves forward.
Having not been involved with local government issues, it has been quite an education to me dealing with local officials in asking questions about the proposal and proposal process for the Old Hampstead Elm School.
The process that I have had to go through in an attempt to get straight answers for basic questions has been frustrating, disappointing and in various ways damaging to me. This paper has reported me as a "thorn in the side" of the mayor and Town Council of Hampstead. That has never been my intent.
The County Staff has been somewhat receptive to my concerns but Mayor Christopher Nevin and some of the Council members have been rude and evasive. This particular proposal has moved along very quickly without a guarantee that the taxpayers' interests are being protected.
When I initially attended the Hampstead Town Council meeting, the Mayor, Town Council members and the proposed developer were unable to answer some very basic questions. For example: (1) No one could tell me whether the developer is paying any dollars for the purchase of this significant parcel of land in the center of town. (2) Do cash payments, if any, go to the County or the Town of Hampstead? (3) Are there any deferred payments to the County or Town based on the significant tax credits associated with this project? (4) Is it the intention of the County or Town to transfer the public property to a private owner without going through the competitive bid process? (5) Is it legal to give a private developer public land?
I then attended a Commissioners' meeting, wrote letters to all three Commissioners, sent a petition containing 75 signatures to all three Commissioners requesting a public meeting and spoke in person with Commissioner Dell and Commissioner Frazier. In posing the same questions to the Commissioners, they did not have answers either. While Commissioner Gouge appeared to only want to sign documents and get rid of the property, Commissioners Dell and Frazier expressed agreement with me that basic information was needed before the project should move forward.
I have since submitted written questions which also have not been answered. My last request was at a current Hampstead Town Council meeting. I asked the Mayor Nevin if he and members of the Town Council would be willing to meet with the public prior to the County signing the property over, in an attempt to answer questions or concerns that the public might have.
The response was a resounding no! Mayor Nevin indicated that he and the Council believed that I was the only person with questions about this project. At this point I attempted to provide the Mayor and Town Council with a citizens' petition containing the signatures, addresses and phone numbers of 75 local residents, business owners and pastors. The petition was simply asking for a public meeting with regard to the Old Hampstead Elementary School. The Mayor and Council refused to look at it or accept it.
From my knowledge of the competitive bid process, there appears to be too many loose ends for the government to be committing anything to this project, which seems to have a financial plan built on sand.
I know that Childs Walker covers the Hampstead beat and needs to maintain good relations with Mayor Nevin, the Town Council and Ken Decker-Town Manager, but his bias ... does an injustice to the citizens of Hampstead in considering this matter that has grave long-term implications to Hampstead's downtown revitalization.
I ask the government officials involved to take a step back, re-evaluate this proposal process and answer the basic questions that will insure that the taxpayers' interests are protected. The rudeness and arrogance that I have encountered is not becoming of a public official and does not serve appropriately the public's interests.
Roy D. Harmon III
Support Dell, Frazier on Piney Run Lake issue
For the past few weeks, County Commissioners Dell and Frazier have been lambasted for considering the long-term water needs of our rapidly expanding region. Appropriately, they have turned to Piney Run Lake, a man-made reservoir constructed at great expense in the eventuality that our area would one day need additional water. That day has arrived.
It is ironic that the public opinion responsible for protests against the plan can largely be found in the sprawling, newly constructed neighborhoods popping up across the area. These residents who moved here seeking a "country atmosphere" are the cause of our water shortage and yet they are also the most vociferous opponents to the Piney Run reservoir plan.
Adding to the misguided logic of these protestors, Sykesville's Town Council recently sucker-punched commissioners Dell and Frazier. Both disregarding generous funding and support provided for the Warfield project and assuming more jurisdictional authority than it has rights to, the council questioned the commissioners' authority to seize land necessary for construction of utilities. The Commissioners should consider reallocating the $300,000 designated for Warfield studies, applying the funds to well drilling studies instead.