Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 14, 2007

Missed opportunity at Mount Hebron

I am saddened to see that renovation for Mount Hebron has been decided instead of a rebuilding of the school and that there is a $50 million cap. Where does that put us 30 years from now? What happens if the renovations costs more than allotted?

Heads will be scratched and people will be saying, "They should have rebuilt this school a long time ago." Is it realistic to waste the money on repairing problems now instead of doing it right and rebuild the school? Is it realistic to spend $23.2 million on other schools, one of which is only 17 years old (Waverly Elementary) when that money could be used to fund the rebuilding of Mount Hebron, which is estimated to cost $80 million?

The message being sent to other aging high schools - Centennial, Atholton, Hammond, Glenelg - is "we don't care" because the Almighty Dollar speaks louder than the children.

Mount Hebron could have been a good example of smart fiduciary responsibility and an elected school board working with the community. As we can see, that is not the case.

Brenda Skinner Ellicott City

Tower dispute should go to courts

Am I the only citizen of Howard County who was not surprised at the "impasse" in the negotiations between the lowly citizens of Howard County and the tower's developer regarding the building of a 23-story residential complex? ("Columbia issue at impasse," Oct. 7).

The supporters of the tower (mainly the active members of the Chamber of Commerce) like to allege that the visionary James Rouse would have agreed with the change to downtown. I, as a former member of the Planning Board, may also allege that Mr. Rouse would never have sought to build a illegal residential facility in that area, and would have acquiesced to a height limitation if the Planning Board had exercised its authority to limit it.

In order for citizens to force the county government to right the wrong done in this case and others [they must] sue in court. It is admirable for County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty to sponsor "remedial" legislation to delay the building of this 23-story building until a comprehensive plan is created for the redevelopment of downtown Columbia. However, the question remains: Will the other council members have the moral fortitude to pass the legislation and do the right thing?

Angela Beltram Ellicott City

Columbia faces time of exciting change

Columbia is on the threshold of the most exciting opportunity before us in 40 years. For far too long the downtown of our "new city" has been only a mall, and many of us would agree with the newspaper article that described Columbia as "a town most would consider placid, even boring."

Now we have the county plan and a new chapter opens that will complete the dream of a downtown befitting our city and county. We are promised a real pedestrian environment in the heart of the city. Many of us can leave our cars at home, can walk to meet friends downtown, have dinner, enjoy the lake. We will have new arts and cultural programs, spaces for artists, exciting architecture, improved choices in restaurants, bike lanes, sidewalks and green buildings. Housing at all income levels will encourage the diversity we so treasure and people will be living downtown bringing vibrancy and "life" to town center.

Still, real fear continues and in some cases is inflamed. Some fear commercial buildings will blot out the sun, neighborhoods will no longer be walkable, open spaces will disappear and what is familiar will cease to be. Those are groundless fears. Of course there will be changes, but there is no reason to believe they will be anything other than exciting changes that improve our lives and make our city shine again.

The key to our gaining what we want is General Growth Properties, and GGP is not the enemy of the city. Yes, it seeks profit, just as every business does, but we need to give the company the opportunity to prove that on its way to one goal, it has the best interest of this community in mind. It can do great things for us.

Come to the county meetings, listen and express your views, your hopes and your concerns. The most likely outcome is that after the fears are put to rest and the questions answered we will, as a community, celebrate a new downtown and wonder why we ever did without it.

Emily Lincoln Columbia

Turf Valley myths need debunking

On Oct. 1, the Howard County Council unanimously approved legislation to require environmental testing of former golf courses before redevelopment. County residents appreciate the leadership that Executive Ulman, the council members, and Dr. Beilenson (the county health officer) have shown in forging a common-sense approach to this issue.

The first application of the county's new development philosophy occurred Oct. 3, when the Planning Board postponed consideration of a Turf Valley mass grading application (SDP-07-085) until comprehensive testing data is submitted for review.

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