December 16, 2007

School board must watch water source

Mary Gail Hare's excellent article, "Forest Hill school wants hookup to public water," highlights one of the risks of building outside the county's designated development envelope -- no public water.

People building homes outside the development envelope accept the risks and personal responsibility for their decision. At Forest Hill Elementary School, MTBE was the school's problem to solve because the school, being outside the development envelope, must use a private well. The school is to be commended for finding and facing the problem and for installing a filtration system to remove the contamination. However, some school officials and parents are asking for public water.

Installing and operating a public water system will probably be even more expensive than operating the filtration system. Getting public water to the school includes spending taxpayer money to buy easements from property owners along the right-of-way.

It will probably result in expanding the development envelope onto all the properties transited by the water lines plus nearby properties in the neighborhood. Although the filtration system is designed to solve the MTBE problem, parents of Forest Hill children may never be convinced of its safety. Forest Hill Elementary will be the tip of a large and growing iceberg unless ALL future schools and other public institutions are built inside the development envelope where they can receive adequate public services.

The school board has recently revealed that they have stopped looking for new school locations within the envelope. Instead, they are looking for sites "just outside" the envelope -- sites just like Forest Hill Elementary. The school board must stop this. They must find school locations within the envelope.

Morita Bruce Fallston

Construction gives way to changes

While Josh Dombroskie's article of 11/25/07, "Main Street on the Mend," detailed many of the headaches associated with the road work taking place in downtown Bel Air, it's important to keep sight of the bigger picture.

Certainly, downtown Bel Air is experiencing some challenges because of the Main Street Streetscape Project. More importantly, the project is helping Bel Air in its ongoing efforts to take back its Main Street as a vibrant social, cultural and economic center.

A look beyond the construction dust reveals the amazing revitalization that has taken place in our town over the past five or six years. Where once there were only about a dozen retail or dining establishments, there are now more than 30 unique, owner-operated shops and restaurants. Where once the town was deserted after 5 p.m., the streets are now alive with people shopping, dining and attending evening events like First Fridays, Twilight Farmers Markets and outdoor family movies.

The town now attracts visitors to major annual events like the Maryland State BBQ Bash, the Bel Air Chocolate Festival and the Bel Air Wine Festival, in addition to its tradition-steeped Christmas and Fourth of July parades.

There is a lot of good news in Bel Air.

Deborah Ponder Mance Piccirilli Group Inc. Marketing & Advertising Bel Air

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