Between The Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

July 12, 2004

Out-of-the-park catch

Joan Floyd is a neighborhood activist and City Council president candidate in November's general election.

She keeps a close and critical eye trained on city government. Last week Floyd's eagle-eye efforts saved a city park.

The city's Department of Housing and Community Development had cobbled together more than 60 city-owned vacant properties that were deemed to be "no longer needed for public use," according to the council bill authorizing their sale.

One of the addresses, however, was a public park at 310 W. 28th St.

Floyd complained in a July 7 letter to Council President Sheila Dixon that more public scrutiny needed to occur before such properties are sold off through a city program aimed at expediting such sales. The program pays private real estate agents a fee to sell the vacant properties to return them more quickly to the tax rolls.

Housing officials acknowledged that the park was on the list by mistake. They removed it before the Board of Estimates gave the list its stamp of approval Wednesday.

"Some people are in an awful hurry with this one, and that's how mistakes happen," Floyd wrote in a subsequent e-mail.

At Wednesday's board hearing, Mayor Martin O'Malley said it was important to provide more notification to the public about these proposed sales.

"Neighbors won't feel we're trying to pull a fast one," O'Malley said. "That should have never been on the list."

-Doug Donovan

Restaurant reincarnated

When the Wharfside Restaurant in Catonsville closed abruptly 10 months ago, residents worried. Would the restaurant reopen? If so, under what name, and serving what cuisine?

Soon workers were spotted at 1600 Frederick Road. The place was gutted and the parking lot repaved. When siding went up early in the new year, speculation about the Wharfside's fate became a winter's hobby.

One disappointing report had the Wharfside going Chinese, but that was denied by the long-time owners, Lori and Allen Parsons, who also own Cacao Lane in Ellicott City.

Then last Tuesday, the place reopened as abruptly as it had closed.

The new restaurant's menu is eclectic, the interior attractively rearranged - and the unpleasant odors of the Wharfside mercifully gone.

The new restaurant is Matthew's 1600, named after the Parsons' middle son, 20.

That's one of at least six names borne by the Catonsville landmark, which in past lives has been a saloon, dance hall and hotel.

- Mike Bowler

They'll sweat the details

Baltimore County announced last week that three of its senior centers will stay open late on "hot days" this summer so that people without air conditioning can get out of the uncomfortable - and potentially dangerous - heat.

If you're wondering what, exactly, constitutes a "hot day," it's quite simple:

"The Senior Centers will open as cooling centers Monday through Friday when the heat index has been 105 degrees or more for three or more hours during the daytime and 80 degrees or more at night, for two consecutive days, and there is a prediction of a third consecutive day at the same heat index."

Quite simple.

Then again, maybe it's best to just call first.

- Andrew A. Green

Playing in the mud

Although Wednesday's torrential rain damaged portions of the Meadowbrook pool in Mount Washington, Olympic hopeful Michael Phelps need not worry about the pool that has served as his training base for so many years.

Flood waters covered the club's parking lot and kiddie pool with 3 to 4 inches of mud, according to assistant manager Colette Kelly, but the main pool was not affected.

The deluge also created a 2-inch slick of mud across the club's six tennis courts and basketball court and submerged the playground and picnic tables in "chest-high" water, she said.

Club staff members and swim team volunteers have worked to clean mud off the parking lot and out of the baby pool, and they're installing a new filtering pump so kids can get back to playing in the water.

- Matt Whittaker

A notorious omission

Click through the Maryland State Police Web site, and you can find a page that lists former superintendents, starting as far back as E. Austin Baughman, 1921-1935.

But don't look for Edward T. Norris, January 2003-December 2003.

The name of that superintendent-turned-criminal is nowhere to be found.

Why the omission, on a Web site clearly updated with the name current superintendent Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins?

"That's news to me," said state police spokesman Sgt. Thornnie Rouse. "I don't stare at the Web site to see who's up there and who's not."

Maybe, Rouse offered, the site just hasn't been updated.- Stephanie Hanes

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