Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 15, 2002

Demand board action on crowded schools

If you are a parent or a taxpayer in Howard County, you had better pay attention to the School Boundary Line Committee (SBLC) meetings. As we learned last year, your vote can make a difference. The SBLC is moving children around as if playing a neighborhood shell game. "This borrows us time" or "How long do we leave an overcrowded school crowded?" are common themes.

These comments are disheartening for members of the Northeast, whose rampant growth has not been paired with adequate growth in public facilities. This is our county's responsibility and they are failing us. The SBLC's charter is to populate a new Elementary and Middle School. The middle school is "centrally located" where it relieves crowding at three middle schools. However, the new elementary school is located across the street from an existing underpopulated elementary school.

If you are a Howard County homeowner and your children are bused to school, your children may not attend the elementary school closest to you. And if you are one of the fortunate few who does attend the elementary school closest to you, it is likely that you will not come 2005 when the next redistricting takes place. This is how serious the overcrowding issue really is.

What can you do? Put pressure on the county to build schools where they are needed. Here in the Northeast, we have over 606 new home sites in the Worthington Elementary School district. This does not account for new development in the Ilchester and Rockburn districts.

Clearly overcrowding is a long-term problem in the Northeast and the County needs to prepare to fix it now. The SBLC has discussed putting an addition on Northfield and Ilchester. This cannot happen without money allocated in the budget and there has been no action to modify or talk to change the budget.

Let our government know you won't tolerate the overcrowded Northeast schools. Let them know that you are watching and listening and demand attention to this educational nightmare. Use your vote. Make a difference.

Linda Bowers

Ellicott City

Huge amount of trash along trail dispiriting

I do community service work throughout the county on a monthly basis. I consider myself fortunate to live in a county that sees the importance of open space and natural habitats to the quality of life of the community around it. If anything, I would say that Howard County prides itself on promoting one of the best qualities of life in the state of Maryland and it's in large part due to its continued efforts in the area of land management.

It is for this reason that I found myself so appalled during a park clean up project on Sept. 10. I took a group of juveniles to the Savage Park Mill Trail on Foundry Street and Gorman Road to pick up litter so they could fulfill their community service requirement.

If you have never been on this trail before it is both scenically beautiful and historically significant. It runs along a picturesque section of the Patuxent River known for its water falls and scenic beauty and it was once home to a cotton duck mill that has since been renovated into the Historic Savage Mill filled with antique shops and artists studios. The park also holds one of the original Bollman truss bridges and is on the National Historic Registry, it is a Maryland landmark of engineering and architecture.

On Sept. 10, however, I was shocked to see to what extent the county and its Department of Parks and Recreation has let the trail become neglected and abused. My group that day collected 17 50-gallon trash bags, a sheet of plywood and an abandoned propane grill.

There was an enormous quantity of trash including a staggering amount of beer bottles, cans, and assorted other liquor bottles, soda cans, food wrappers and, most appalling of all, were the near twenty baby diapers strewn along the banks of the river. I couldn't help but wonder how this was possible? Was this a county park or a dumping facility?

There are signs posted up and down the trail, "No Grills," "No Swimming," "No Alcohol" and "No Littering". It has come to a point where it is no longer a nature trail for the community to enjoy but a dumping ground for weekend animals.

What's the point of posting the signs if no one bothers to enforce the policies? What really bothers me is that I see the Howard County Police sitting in their cars at the trailhead on a daily basis. For what? The littering not only continues but is rampant, the alcohol abuse is clearly in evidence, and people still swim.

I would argue that if this were a more high-profile park like Centennial or Lake Elkhorn such abuse would simply not be tolerated, there would be a police presence that would enforce the regulations and create a clean safe environment to enjoy the county's natural resources.

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