Hampstead poses series of questions to commissioners

Town protests treatment by board on matters of funding, land transfer

April 14, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Hampstead Town Council members say they can't begin mending their relationship with the Carroll commissioners until the commissioners answer at least four long-standing questions.

Hampstead leaders want to know:

Will the county compensate the town for the police services it provides at North Carroll High School, services none of the other towns in Carroll provide to county schools?

Will the county donate a piece of industrial land it owns on the edge of town to help Hampstead clear space for the long-awaited Route 30 bypass?

Will the commissioners either reconsider their decision to withdraw funding for the Boxwood Drive extension or divert money that would have gone to the project to another Hampstead-related project?

Will the commissioners follow through on donating the old Hampstead Elementary School to the town without charging $100,000, a fee that Hampstead leaders consider exorbitant?

At their meeting last week, Hampstead council members said they need answers before the two bodies can hold a fruitful meeting. The announcement came after Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge told Town Manager Ken Decker that the commissioners would like to meet with Hampstead leaders.

Relations between the governments, strained for much of the past two years, have been increasingly difficult in the past three weeks since the commissioners abruptly withdrew funding for a planned extension of Boxwood Drive, just outside town limits.

That unanimous vote struck Hampstead leaders as the latest of a series of actions in which the commissioners were manipulating the town agenda without consulting town officials.

Gouge said the commissioners will try to offer answers to the council's questions.

"If you're just talking and there are no actual plans behind it, then everybody stays out in the cold," said Gouge, echoing Hampstead leaders' complaints about their communications with the commissioners.

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin expressed skepticism that the town would receive concrete answers.

When asking Town Council members if they wanted to meet with the commissioners, he asked, "You want to waste another three hours, or should we just wait until November?" when a new set of commissioners might be in place after county elections.

Nevin said he would write a letter to the commissioners, formally posing the four questions, all of which arose at a meeting between the two boards in September and have yet to be formally answered.

"If they're ready to resolve these issues and not just talk about them, then maybe we'll have the basis for getting together," Nevin said.

The mayor offered a parting shot. When asked by a resident whether a meeting between the two boards would be open to the public, Nevin said, "We don't have a problem opening the doors and letting anybody in to listen ... unlike the commissioners."

Sweetheart settlement

Officials also said last week that Hampstead is on the verge of accepting a $10,000 settlement from Sweetheart Cup, stemming from a dispute over a mound of dirt the company moved on top of town water pipes.

Sweetheart Cup finished construction of the plant just outside town limits about two years ago.

Hampstead officials said the mound, designed to obscure residents' views of the plant, would be too big to excavate easily should town workers have to make repairs.

Decker said the town would use the $10,000 to purchase excavation equipment it would need to reach the buried pipe.

Councilman to resign

Also, Hampstead Councilman Vince Corsaro announced last week that he will vacate his seat because he plans a move to nearby Manchester.

The remaining Town Council members are soliciting applications for the opening, which they will fill by appointment.

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