Paving way to water plans

County to vote today on widening road to Piney Run Lake

Anticipates treatment plant

Residents want upgrade, but final goal raises concern

October 03, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Residents of Hollenberry Road in Sykesville are ecstatic about Carroll County's plan to improve the bumpy, rutted stretch of street in front of their homes. What doesn't please them all is the reason the road's being rebuilt - it's the route Carroll County vehicles would travel to a water treatment plant if one is built on Piney Run Lake.

The Carroll commissioners are expected to approve a $418,000 contract today to widen Hollenberry Road to 16 feet and to repave it.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier support the project because it provides access to the proposed plant. "I expect the contract to go through," Dell said. "The road is pretty rough now and this will be an improvement."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said yesterday she intends to vote against approval of the contract, which also includes installation of a parallel water pipeline from the proposed plant to a water main on Obrecht Road. Gouge has consistently cast votes against the plant and anything involved in its construction.

"It will be a 2-to-1 vote, no question about it," said Gouge. Building the road is the wrong thing to do, especially without all the rights of way, Gouge said.

Although Carroll officials have negotiated rights of way from all nine homeowners along Hollenberry Road, Sykesville has refused to sign over a 120-foot stretch of Obrecht Road where the new pipeline would connect to a county water main.

While many of the nine households have enjoyed the isolation afforded by their private road, they do not relish the problems harsh weather creates.

"It is like a ditch in winter," said Angela Deppe, who lives at the far end of the road, almost a half-mile from Obrecht Road. "It is an ice channel and we have to park our car and walk in [from Obrecht Road] every winter. If we get this road paved, it will be a delightful, ironic event."

Ironic, she said, because she does not want a treatment plant.

`A real boondoggle'

"We could get the best of both worlds: the road and no plant," said Deppe. "I am totally against the Piney Run plant. It is a real boondoggle."

Denise Shatz said rain washes out the small amount of gravel on the road and dry spells mean dust.

"I am looking forward to the paving," Shatz said. "This will be a real advantage for us and will only better the property values."

The road will be widened to make room for two vehicles to pass. For years, when cars met on the winding road, one has had to pull over or back up to allow the other to pass, said Irene Gassaway, a resident for 30 years.

"We need a paved road badly and that is why I agreed to the right of way," Gassaway said. "But I am not in favor of taking water from Piney Run."

Concern for health of lake

With Deppe, Shatz and Gassaway, many other South Carroll residents oppose the treatment plant - more than 3,000 signed a petition against the project. Many have said they fear the plant operation would have an adverse effect on the 300-acre lake and surrounding parkland, a recreation spot that draws thousands every year. The Maryland Department of the Environment has said it will not issue a construction permit for the plant, a project state officials say runs counter to efforts to control sprawl.

Dell and Frazier see the plant as the solution to persistent water shortages in populous South Carroll. The available supply - 3 million gallons a day from Liberty Reservoir and about 250,000 gallons from a new well - frequently cannot meet demand during prolonged dry spells. About 18,000 residents in Sykesville and Eldersburg rely on the public water system.

More wells called for

Despite the likelihood of a ban on outdoor water use next year, residents have expressed strong opposition to the Piney Run treatment plant. They are pushing for more wells and an expansion of the county's operation at Liberty Reservoir, which is owned by Baltimore City.

But Dell and Frazier have vowed to move ahead. If, as expected today, they sign the road and pipeline contract with C.J. Miller, a Hampstead contractor, the road could be built this fall.

"Once we have the commissioners' signature, we will have a preconstruction meeting with the contractor and then give a notice to proceed," said Doug Myers, county director of public works. "But it all depends on what direction the commissioners give me."

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