February 6, 2015 4:40 pm ET
The final plans of the North Point Government Center are still undecided
Although the finial plans for the North Point Government Center are still undecided, I think the writing is on the wall especially after the re-appointment of County Administrator Fred Homan. I have written about this subject on numerous occasions and understand the community’s passions on this issue.
The work being done on the old Eastwood Elementary School is a strong indicator of where this project regarding the GC is going.
Here is another letter from Mr. Bob Staab on this volatile subject. The letter is published as written.
North Point Government Center Park Gate
The North Point Government Center Park is a Baltimore County debacle that would even make Richard Nixon and Bill Billacheck smile. The latest chapter consist of less than a hand full of dedicated Dundalk Recreation Council volunteers who are making decisions for tens of thousands of community residents surrounding the North Point Center.
This less than a hand full of volunteers (approximately three very dedicated and well meaning volunteers, along with Brayan Sheppard, Baltimore County representative) met at Logan Elementary Activity room on Monday, January 19, 2015. The meeting was called by the Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council and consisted almost entirely of the select group of individuals, which were apparently chosen by Brayan Sheppard with the consent of the president of the Recreation Council. I was not personally invited to the meeting, but attended anyhow. My presence really made little difference, if any at all, to the results of the meeting.
I am not trying to be sarcastic when I say that the majority of those attending were
dedicated recreation council volunteers. They are! However, they do not by far, represent the mass of people of the communities surrounding North Point and are not voicing the various communities’ interest in the parkland and facility. Their interest, in my opinion, is representing their own particular program causes.
The facility according to the basic plan shown accounts for several of their major concerns, including the wrestling program, soccer program and to an entirely inadequate multipurpose room for “The Sky’s The Limit,” and other programs that inadequately accommodates various theatrical type programs. The facility as shown is approximately 24,000 + square feet as compared to the approximately 50,000 square feet currently being used for recreation programming at North Point.
The select group of individuals showed little to no interest in what plans for North Point are for the play-fields on the parkland of the remaining property. When I mentioned the playfields, Mr. Shepperd quickly commented that “We are retaining the four ball diamonds we currently have.” The four diamonds he is alluding to are: one ball diamond and a portion of another ball diamond, and one mini- soccer field at North Point. The other two regulation athletic fields, are both mostly on the Grange Elementary School property and only a portion of the fields are on the North Point property. There are two ball diamonds and an existing regulation athletic field on the Grange site currently.
The original RFP of which Vanguard stated, “It will retain the athletic fields in their current location” The RFP pledged the following enhancements: “That the Offeror was willing to retain the current athletic fields was a critical component of the proposal, given the community’s desire to retain open space at the site. This allows recreation programs at the site to continue uninterrupted, and the committee also found that to be a
compelling reason for selection.” However, the County Administration has completely reneged on the original RFP and shown a disregard for their comment that “The athletic fields will stay the same.”
The current fields at North Point alone are four ball diamonds and two regulation athletic fields plus other amenities such as a fenced in outdoor court, tennis courts and a basketball court.
I would think that the County Administration was sworn to protect the interest of the County and their citizens. Instead it appears that they are more interested in protecting the interest of the developer at the expense of the citizens. The most recent concept plan places the entire length of high tension wires at both North Point and Grange Elementary School on the Baltimore County property. In addition, the storm water management area on the Merritt Boulevard side of the property is located on the county property even though it will receive total storm water from the proposed Merritt Pavilion Shopping Center.
The self-appointed Recreation Council committee seemed particularly enamored with the aspect of receiving a lighted turf field to be located next to the current lighted field at Merritt Point Park. This idea was proffered by the past County Councilman in order to appease the community surrounding North Point for not receiving their promised fields. A field at Merritt Point would be out of walking range to the surrounding communities at North Point and would necessitate youngsters crossing Peninsula Expressway and a functioning railroad over a mile away. There are currently four lighted athletic facilities within a three-quarter mile radius of the proposed new lighted athletic facility including Merritt Park, Chesterwood Park, Dundalk Community College, and Dundalk High School. A beautiful stadium with lighted fields, bleachers, a storage building and electric scoreboard is located at Chesterwood Park which is currently unused because the County says there are boulders on the field. How did boulders get on the field? Was the County sleeping when the stadium was being built? Why use approximately $800,000 dollars to build another unneeded lighted athletic field, when part of the funds could be utilized to renovate the Chesterwood Park stadium? The rest of the money could be utilized to help refurbish North Point Building that has been neglected for the past five years or ever since the County decided they could sell it to a delighted developer. The County Administration’s quote to developers was something like “Do I have a deal for you!”
The County Administration, including Mr. Sheppard, is not interested in what is good for the communities surrounding North Point. They are more interested in what is best for the developer at the expense of the communities.
If the County Administration really wants to do what is best for the communities; they will welcome the establishment of a larger contingent of the communities’ citizens made up of organizations surrounding North Point and stop withholding information from the public.