Speak Out!

April 16, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE:The state is threatening to evict several nonprofit groups, including a regional food bank, drug treatment center and nursing home, in a dispute with Anne Arundel County over the disposition of the shuttered Crownsville state psychiatric hospital site.

Van T. Mitchell, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in a letter that the impasse over which party will pay an estimated $25 million for environmental cleanup might force the state to evict the community organizations next year.

The county says it cannot afford to take over the 600-plus-acre campus and that the cleanup is the state's responsibility.

Should the state evict the nonprofit groups from the Crownsville hospital site? And whose responsibility is the environmental cleanup?

Voters should decide fate of public treasure

Let Anne Arundel County voters decide the disposition of the 638-acre Crownsville property. It is a public treasure, strategically located, and housing nonprofit organizations that serve thousands of Anne Arundel's citizens and contribute millions of dollars of free public services to the community.

Neither County Executive Janet S. Owens nor Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. have been champions of the people during their respective administrations. They have consistently favored business interests over the people's interest, devalued the need for environmental safeguards and literally put a "For Sale" sign on their respective jurisdictions.

Maryellen Brady Edgewater

Land can be used for work force housing

The Alliance for Fair Land Use will be contacting the governor to purchase the 600-acre Crownsville site to create a unique campus. Part of the property will be used for work-force housing, especially teachers, police, fire, nurses, and other occupations critical to our economy.

The nonprofits will be allowed to remain and hopefully expand as they provide an important service to Anne Arundel County. Part of the land would be used for high-tech development, and we would also have plenty of open space and walking/bicycling paths.

If the county and state will not split the cost of the cleanup, then we will do it with a bond from the revenues generated. The housing initiative is quite simple. We would ask for competitive bids to build work-force housing on the property. The selected builder or builders would build the homes at a prearranged price. The nonprofit Alliance would hold title to the land and provide a soft mortgage that does not have to be paid for 30 years.

Thus, the buyer only has to qualify for the home itself, not the land. We create instant homebuyers and taxpayers on surplus property. We all know that the land is what drives housing prices.

Restrictive zoning has created a work-force housing crisis in our county, and yet we will read from groups that they do not want any work-force housing at Crownsville, or anywhere else for that matter.

Yes, we will make improvements to the roads and other necessary infrastructure through a bond. This is a countywide issue. If not Crownsville then where? And when? If not the Alliance, then who?

John S. Pantelides Annapolis

AA County Alliance For Fair Land Use

State and county could share the cost In response to your questions about the nonprofit organizations at the Crownsville Hospital Center, it appears that the state and county could share the cost of the environmental cleanup. There are 26 tenants at the Hospital Center, many of them nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit organizations provide a service that they could not afford to provide if forced to move. The clients of the nonprofit organizations would need to seek the services from federal, state or county organizations.

We, the Chesapeake PC Users Group Computer Refurbishing Special Interest Group, have provided over 1,250 computers to low-income families and individuals; 250 of these computers have been provided to students at the Mill-Parole Elementary School at no cost to the students.

We ask for a modest donation to cover the cost of replacement parts from other recipients. All of the refubishers are volunteers; there is no paid staff.

We share space with the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and Resource Center that provides, at no cost to the individuals and families, food, clothing, medical supplies, and furniture. How can services such as these be provided if some assistance is not available from our state and county?

Fran Damratowski Annapolis

The writer is chairman of the Computer Refurbishing Special Interest Group.

Nonprofits at site are invaluable to county

As a volunteer at the Chesapeake PC Users Refurbishing Group, I feel strongly that we need to keep the nonprofit groups at the Crownsville site. These groups have been a great asset to the community. If we were forced to move it would be very difficult to find 2,000 square feet at a different location.

Audrey Zimmer Annapolis

PC refurbishers help those in need

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