Community leaders' advice for Kamenetz

November 28, 2010

This week, The Sun asked Baltimore County community leaders to give their thoughts about what County Executive-elect Kevin Kamenetz's priorities should be when he's sworn in on Dec. 6. Here are their responses:

There are a variety of issues that the new County Executive will deal with, but I have chosen just three priorities out of a field of many. Those three are:

1. Baltimore County Public School facilities (renovation vs. building new; adding schools in areas of current overcrowding, etc.)

2. Expanding open space opportunities in the older, more urban communities where in many instances existing public open space is lacking.

3. Attracting and/or expanding the manufacturing sector in the county (there has been a steady decline of manufacturing over the last decade, punctuated by the loss of major manufacturers, such as Lockheed and Solo Cup).

Eric Rockel, president of the Greater Timonium Community Council

As the 2nd District county councilman, either Kevin or his assistant have attended the Reisterstown Owings Mills Glyndon Coordinating Council meetings each month, shown support and/or given advice with issues that directly effect the Northwest area.

One example, Kevin worked at the request of Reisterstown citizens to get the Baltimore County Office of Planning started on a plan to revitalize Main Street in Reisterstown. A steering committee comprised of community homeowners, Main Street property owners and Main Street business owners/managers has been working with the county since this spring and will be participating in a 2011 charrette geared toward finalizing plans for the area. As part of their efforts, the steering committee has formed a new association, Reisterstown Improvement Association, Inc. in preparation for implementing the plans as quickly as possible.

A second example is the efforts of the last few years at the Owings Mills Metro Center. He has been a supporter of the development, which is apparently now back on course, for a community college and public library. Construction stalled after the Metro parking garage was completed, and much to the dismay of the neighboring areas the Owings Mills Mall has deteriorated during this delay. We hope to see the new development inspire revitalization of the mall. We all hope that his leadership will get everything back on track and that as county executive he will continue to support efforts in our area of town.

Mary Molinaro, president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Coordinating Council

I am the current president of the Pikesville Greenspring Community Coalition (PGCC), which has 17 condominium or homeowner associations under its umbrella. Our organization recently wrote a 10-year community action plan spelling out our goals and vision for the community in the areas of land use, transportation, commercial areas, public safety and education. Our plan is online at the PGCC website.

Having Kevin Kamenetz as our councilman for the last 16 years was wonderful. I am confident that the excellent constituent service our community organization got used to in the 2nd District will be experienced by the other community groups in the county.

Personally, I am hoping Kevin brings to Baltimore County the importance of developing a sense of community where neighbors care about each other. He should discourage the East vs. West battles that have plagued the county for the last four decades.

The new executive should preserve the quality of existing communities and ensure that future development meets the needs of county residents. The housing stock should be protected so that it does not lose its desirability. We should strive for an entire life cycle community that encourages residents to live through each stage of life within the county.

Specifically, we need parks for open space and recreation. The efforts being put forth to refurbish Robert E. Lee park as a regional facility with bike paths should be encouraged. Our public schools should be air conditioned so it is no longer necessary to recess the entire school system early on hot days.

I encourage the establishment of a task force to improve transportation options that reduce our reliance on automobiles. Let's see for a push for more sidewalks, bike paths and a greater responsiveness to the traffic concerns within county neighborhoods.

Finally, I hope Kevin will continue to financially support the cultural amenities offered in Baltimore City. If the city were to lose any of the theaters, museums or zoo, it would hurt the quality of life for those of us in the county.

John H. Denick, president of the Pikesville Greenspring Community Coalition

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