October 15, 2006

No leadership on Turf Valley issue

I am writing as a resident of Turf Valley and as someone who has been involved in the issues surrounding its development.

I am appalled at the gutless action of the County Council, especially Charles Feaga, who seems to want it both ways. None of these so-called leaders deserve a vote in the upcoming election. They have all shown how they handle difficult issues and it is not in the best interest of the public.

The Turf Valley development is a well-planned, effective use of golf course land and fits nicely into the overall development of U.S. 40 and Howard County. To have it held hostage to a very small group of individuals who have a vendetta against the Mangione Family Enterprises (MFE) is what should be labeled a "tyranny of the minority." Development moves ahead all around Turf Valley without much concern, but Turf Valley somehow is a major crime against the public. Howard County leaders (a real oxymoron if there ever was one) need to do the right thing and stop caving into false political pressure.

Turf Valley will provide an upscale location aimed mostly at seniors. This means a community attractive to those Howard County residents who want to downsize (baby-boomers) and one that will provide high tax revenue without the requirement for a high level of service. Traffic, schools, and environmental concerns have been used as false issues to attack the project. Each of these issues will be addressed favorably for the residents and for the County.

The vast majority of my neighbors favor the development moving forward and are disgusted with the way the opponents have been able to use the process to cause delays. Why should our current leaders be rewarded for their behavior?

Don Sadler

Ellicott City

Laptops for kids an unwise proposal

So county executive candidate and Councilman Chris Merdon has proposed giving laptop computers to all incoming freshman students to help create his "School System of the Future." Well, that's wonderful. What parent wouldn't want their child to have a brand-new laptop upon entry to high school? Never mind quite a few kids these days already have one. But let's put that aside for now.

My question is: how does one pay for all these new laptops? Mr. Merdon's answer: "private donations, renegotiated cable franchise agreements and budget savings."

Budget savings? Really? I guess that means reduced benefits for police and firefighters and a stop to (or scaling back of) the construction of the police and fire training facility being constructed near Alpha Ridge that Mr. Merdon characterized as unnecessary. Not to mention probable cuts to the county's nationally recognized library system, which Mr. Merdon proposed in 2003.

I'm all for raising the technology level of county schools, but let's try to strike a balance here. The police and firefighters who protect the youngsters who attend those schools need technology, too. So does the library system to enable those kids to find the books they need for school. So spread the wealth, Mr. Merdon.

Kristen Neville

Ellicott City

Make families pay for kids' laptops

I am a Republican and I am absolutely astonished and outraged by [county county executive candidate] Chris Merdon's proposal to provide free laptop computers to all ninth-grade students.

Why should the taxpayers foot the bill to purchase laptops for students when the majority of the residents in this county can easily afford to purchase for their children a laptop? If you want to the county schools to go "high-tech," then make it a requirement that all students report to school with a laptop. If they are not able to afford a laptop, then put together a social program for those children to lease a laptop from the county for $10 a month.

Another thought: Children break, damage and destroy things by accident, and laptops, although rugged, do not take well to being dropped, spilled on, or slammed around. Who is going to be responsible for fixing and/or replacing the laptops after a child has destroyed the "free laptop"?

Kenneth Clark


Don't slow planning on Town Center[County Council Chairman] Chris Merdon has called for slowing the Columbia Town Center planning process for a least a year. Nothing could be more counterproductive to keeping Howard County a desirable place to live.

In 1960, when the population of Howard County was about 36,000, the general plan for Howard County predicted that in the year 2000 the population would be 200,000. In 1964, James Rouse presented a plan to manage that kind of growth. County commissioners and other elected officials had the wisdom to work with that plan, realizing that planned growth was preferable to not having a plan when growth was inevitable. Growth is still inevitable. Stopping the process for Town Center now would be as unwise as rejecting the plan for Columbia would have been in 1964.

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