County won't pay for road extension

But Town Council had reaffirmed support for project

Mayor is `disappointed'

Commissioners say plan unpopular, budget is tight

March 22, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners will not pay for a $218,000 extension of Hampstead's Boxwood Drive, despite the fact the town's council reaffirmed its support of the often-criticized project last week.

The commissioners said that given the county's tight budget and the unpopularity of the proposed extension with residents who live on or near Boxwood, they don't consider the project a high priority.

"It appears there are alternative ways to get through that area, so [this extension] is not absolutely necessary, even though it's in our long-term plans," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.

Hampstead leaders said they've felt frustrated by the commissioners, who had allocated money for the extension in this year's budget but began hedging on their intentions once residents expressed discontent.

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin sent the commissioners a letter after last week's town meeting affirming his council's desire for the road and questioning why the county would thwart the council's wishes on an approved plan.

"I'm disappointed in their decision, I'm disappointed that they couldn't take the time to call someone with the town and discuss the issue, and I'm disappointed that they felt the need to overturn a town decision and renege on an agreement that's been in place for two years," Nevin said yesterday.

Asked whether the nature of the decision spoke to a greater communication problem between town and county leaders, Nevin replied, "How hard is it to pick up the phone? We call and write them a lot, and we can get nothing in return. Nothing."

The Boxwood extension hadn't caused many ripples in Hampstead before a Town Council meeting Feb. 12, when about 30 residents showed up with stories of how their children would be in danger traversing the extended road. Most said they hadn't heard about the extension until seeing the newly revised town comprehensive plan, a blueprint for Hampstead land use that is updated periodically.

Under the plan, the town eventually would extend the road in two directions, connecting it to Lower Beckleysville Road on the north side and to Trenton Mill Road on the south. Only the 300-foot extension to Lower Beckleysville has been approved.

Residents have said that if extended in both directions, Boxwood would become a high-speed Route 30 bypass. Recognizing those concerns, council members said they would not approve the extension to Trenton Mill until the State Highway Administration builds a Route 30 bypass.

The council approved the 300-foot extension to Lower Beckleysville hoping Boxwood would become a feeder that would smoothly transfer traffic from residential streets to major roads.

It remains unclear what will happen to the $218,000 that was slated for the extension project, which had entered its design phase.

Commissioners Frazier and Julia Walsh Gouge suggested transferring some of the money to a higher priority project in Hampstead such as the repaving of Panther Drive, a town road that serves North Carroll High School.

But Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he'd rather see the money transferred to a county project. He questioned why the county planned to fund a town road project in the first place, though the Boxwood extension would be outside town lines.

"I think we need to back out of this," he said.

In other business, the commissioners accepted a $30,285 federal grant for emergency food and shelter, nearly double this year's $17,000.

"We have no idea why we received extra money, especially in these tight budget times," said Jolene Sullivan, director of Carroll's Citizen Services. "This money helps prevent evictions, provides security deposits for rent and assistance with fuel costs."

The bulk of the money - nearly $21,000 - will go to Human Services Programs, an agency that assisted 41 households with rent and mortgage money last year and 58 households with utility payments.

Meals on Wheels will receive $2,800 for services it provides to those younger than age 60. Carroll Food Sunday has seen its client list double in the past year and will receive $4,000.

With its $2,500 share of the grant, Family and Children's Services can provide food and housing for three additional women and their children for at least seven nights.

Sun staff writer Mary Gail Hare contributed to this article.

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