Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 20, 2007

Help Mount Hebron -- adopt the Watson plan

The efforts for Mount Hebron High School by the community have now exceeded the four-year mark. Needless to say, there is exhaustion and frustration as we now have been placed in the position of lobbying the County Council for restoration of the funds that were in the Board of Education's original capital budget request.

Without these funds, the Mount Hebron High School project comes to a standstill, with an estimated delay of an additional 12 to 18 months beyond the current delay, before the project can be put to bid. In addition, taxpayers can be concerned that this administrative delay will surely cause undo cost escalation as construction prices continue to rise.

Granted there has been some confusion regarding how these funds would be utilized, since the school system wisely decided to place the process on hold while it gathered needed data to determine the project's scope. All relevant data will be available in June, allowing the Board of Education to make an informed decision regarding Mount Hebron's future, hopefully within a month of receipt of the data.

The Board of Education's fiscal 2008 $18.9 million request, if funded, will be used to fill in planning holes caused by a broadened project scope (the original fine arts and physical education renovation did not include mandated firewalls and a centralized HVAC) along with funds to initiate construction.

Mount Hebron's needs are immediate and undisputable. Resolution is inevitable, and the students and staff have waited long enough. Councilwomen Courtney Watson seems to have developed a solution that solves two problems at one time. Her proposal for Belmont's purchase to use open-space and state funding rather than county funds frees up several million dollars that can be transferred to the Mount Hebron project. I strongly urge the County Council to adopt Ms. Watson's proposal and save two communities at a single time.

Michele Psoras

Ellicott City

Belmont neighbors back public access

I would like to address a misstatement that Howard Community College has perpetuated about the neighbors of Belmont. They have said, and has been represented in letters to The Sun, that the neighbors of Belmont somehow want to keep the public out of Belmont.

In fact, in 2001 the neighbors of Belmont entered into an agreement to allow public events at Belmont that were not allowed by zoning. Neighbors have allowed, and continue to allow, three times the county-recommended traffic to cross their private property and private road to access Belmont. The County Council called this a "shining example" of neighborhood cooperation. We neighbors could have held to the zoning regulations that only allowed private events, but instead we entered into these agreements to support the economic viability and public access to Belmont.

As much as the college tries to focus on the "neighbors," no community or environmental group has supported the college's plan for Belmont. Howard County can do better than this quagmire.

John C. Boyd

Elkridge

We want your opinions

THE ISSUE:

Columbia's 40-day birthday celebration has the theme "Celebrate Columbia: The Place. The People. The Experience." Do you like it?

YOUR VIEW:

Send e-mail responses by Thursday to howard.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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