Residents wary about bus lot

Plans call for parking area behind new Perry Hall library

April 22, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Some Perry Hall residents are happy that a new library will be built on Honeygo Boulevard. But they were not so pleased when they learned that 50 school buses will be parked behind it.

Officials from the county government and school system say the area needs a bus lot to reduce the distance buses now travel to pick up children in the northeastern part of the county. Mature trees will shield the bus lot from view, they said.

Baltimore County government and the school board agreed this year to swap some property near Honeygo Boulevard and Cross Road with part of a parcel owned by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The county purchased about 13 acres near the intersection in 1976 for a future school, but only half of the property can be developed under current environmental restrictions, according to county spokesman Donald I. Mohler.

To build the library, the county is buying 6.7 acres of adjacent land owned by the archdiocese for $1.1 million. In exchange, the county will give 1.8 acres to the archdiocese.

The school system will then use part of the county's property in the center of the triangle formed by Forge and Cross roads and Honeygo Boulevard to park buses.

Right now, 50 buses are sent from a lot on Kenwood Avenue each day to transport children in the northeast area. "These are the buses that are already in their community," Mohler said.

Deborah Kraft, who lives near the intersection of Forge Road and Honeygo Boulevard, says she understands that logic. "I think it needs to be closer to home. There is a need," she said.

However, "I don't think next to existing homes is a good place for a bus lot." She thinks the school system should find commercial land for the lot.

Kraft fears that the lot is going to be noisy and congested and may drive down home values.

"No matter what you do, it's still going to be 50 yellow buses," she said. "I don't know how they're going to make it look pretty."

But Mohler said that neighbors will see only a grassy field and tall trees. "They're going to screen this thing thoroughly," he said.

County schools spokesman Brice Freeman said the facility will include a two-bay garage with a dispatch office and restroom. Both he and Mohler said finding commerical property for the buses would cost more money.

Dennis Eckard, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, agreed that it makes sense to have the buses located closer to the area they serve.

He said he wishes he and other residents had more information about the bus parking plans. He expects a lot of questions about the issue at a meeting about the library next week.

"We haven't really had any type of input other than rumor," Eckard said.

The plans for the new library will go through a full development process with public meetings, which should take about two years, Mohler said. The 25,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost about $8.4 million, he said.

A meeting about the planned library for Perry Hall will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the existing Perry Hall library, 9440 Belair Rd., Perry Hall. 410-887-5195.

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