Panelists selected to advise Balto. County on renewal

Neighborhood leaders, student and developer to be on committee

September 18, 2001|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Neighborhood leaders, a developer and an outspoken high school student are among the members of a new advisory group that will help Baltimore County officials select a final blueprint for the Essex-Middle River waterfront destination.

The formation of the committee, announced yesterday, also sent a message to the eastern county that County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger was taught a valuable and politically painful lesson last year when voters rejected Senate Bill 509, his ambitious revitalization law that carried condemnation power.

"They want to make sure we help take these ideas to the public and avoid another fiasco like Senate Bill 509," said Rocky Jones, president of the Essex-Middle River Civic Council and member of the new advisory group.

The group's composition was announced the day after a tribute to Ruppersberger and others by residents of Essex and Middle River at their annual festival Sunday.

The planned tourist destination involves 20 acres where three underused public marinas sit at the headwaters of Middle River. Officials want to develop the site with major improvements to the marinas, a restaurant, retail shops and a promenade for strollers.

The riverfront is part of a larger east-side redevelopment plan in which hundreds of 50-year-old apartments have been torn down for planned single-family homes, public parks, a streetscape and other improvements.

On Oct. 1, a consultant team headed by Whitman Requardt & Associates will meet with Ruppersberger and other officials in Towson to lay out concept plans for the site. Several are expected to be offered, officials said.

The next day, Oct. 2, planners and officials will meet with the community at 7 p.m. at Middlesex Elementary School, 142 Bennett Road. There, concepts will be displayed, and the professionals who undertook the study will explain their rationale for the plans.

The advisory group will act as the eyes and ears of the community and collect opinions and suggestions about the waterfront. The group's first meeting is tentatively set for Oct. 9.

Other members of the group are: John Horn, a Hawthorne community leader; Laura Handley of Middlesex; Robert D'Antonio, president of the Essex-Middle River-White Marsh Chamber of Commerce; John Polek, president of the Marine Trades Association; Rachel Wright, honors student at Eastern Technical High School; developer Lawrence I. Rosenberg of WaterView Joint Venture, which will develop the site of the former Riverdale apartments; and Ray Heil, a county official.

Also, Anna Mueller, owner of Buedel's Marina; Jeanie Riley, owner of Riley's Marina; Gary Rosenberger, owner of Cutter's Marina; and Georgann Lynch and Jackie Nickel, two local activists.

The advisory group was named after repeated requests from area residents and from Del. Nancy Hubers, an Essex Democrat, and county Councilman John Olszewski of Dundalk.

Barbara Wright, mother of the advisory group's teen-age member, said yesterday, "Rachel has always felt strongly about important issues. Activism is something she comes by naturally."

Her daughter, a senior honors student and varsity athlete, was the only young person to write to county officials voicing her sentiments about improving the drab sections of the east side and her support for the revitalization plan.

"Actually, this is quite an honor for our family," said Barbara Wright, who works as a clerk at a supermarket delicatessen. "It's the first time anyone has been selected to do something like this, to make a difference."

William Jones, the county's waterfront development specialist, said members of the advisory group were chosen to achieve a cross section of opinion and energy. "The group members will act as listening posts in their neighborhoods, stores and schools and bring the information back into the mix of what we are trying to do," he said.

Jones said residents and business owners may also submit comments by mail to his office, Baltimore County Office of Economic Development, 400 Washington Ave., Towson 21204.

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