Delay sought on pumping station

City may extend deadline to decide where facility will be constructed

August 06, 2004|By Scott Waldman | Scott Waldman,SUN STAFF

Reacting to community protests, city officials are considering extending the deadline for selecting a site for a proposed wastewater pumping station in Wyman Park.

During a sometimes heated meeting at City Hall that lasted more than two hours yesterday, community groups asked for an extension of the Aug. 31 site selection deadline. City officials said they would consider the request.

The city wants to build the pumping station on one of seven sites under consideration along Stony Run. The 10,000- square-foot pumping station would help cut the amount of wastewater that flows into the Jones Falls during storms, city officials say.

In planning for the pumping station, the city has tried to accommodate the wishes of residents affected by the change as much as possible, said Robert H. Murrow, a Department of Public Works spokesman.

"Understandably, they're concerned, but we're trying our best to make this as unintrusive as possible," Murrow said.

The project, which would also include repair or replacement of existing sewer pipes, is part of a $900 million sewer system upgrade, Murrow said.

During yesterday's meeting, the plan for the pumping station drew denunciations from residents of neighborhoods near the park.

"We don't want Wyman Park to be torn up so we can put a stinking pumping station there," said Dennis Byrne, who lives in Wyman Park.

Kathleen Talty, a community organizer, said the city has not sought input from people who might be affected by the project.

"It's a one-way exchange of information," she said.

Citing the possibility of noxious odors, noise and an ugly building spoiling the park's beauty, opponents of the pumping station predicted that it would mean a decline in their quality of life and in the values of their homes.

"There are other options to explore," said Talty. "We don't know all of them because we haven't had enough information."

Some of the alternatives proposed by the group include putting in parallel sewer lines and choosing an alternative location, such as an industrial area.

Some city residents, such as Mary Pat Clarke, the Democratic City Council nominee for the new 14th District, are fearful that Baltimore could lose valuable park space.

"We have almost no parkland left over there," Clarke said.

City Council President Sheila Dixon said she hopes the city and the community can work to achieve a "win-win" situation.

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