A Letter From Dundalk Community Leader, Bob Staab
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 19th January 2017

October 19, 2014 2:52 pm ET

Kamenetz comments to local criticisms is convenient just before the election

Source: A Letter From Dundalk Community Leader, Bob Staab

Kevin Kamenetz’s response to local criticism in my opinion was either through ignorance or prevarication. No County Executive should be that steeped in false information.

Over and over, Mr. Kamenetz states how during his term he has held the line on taxes. Have your property taxes gone up in the last four years? You can bet they have! He is playing on the ignorance of some residents who don’t realize, there is a difference between the “Tax Rate” and “Tax Assessments.” Has he reduced the tax rate to compensate for the “State Assessments” in order to hold the line on property tax in Baltimore County? No! The “Tax Rate” in Baltimore County has probably not gone up for nearly 20 years.

Dundalk still has numerous vacant stores within close proximity to the North Point Government /Recreation Center including the Merritt Park Shopping Center; which still has at least 25 stores vacant after 3 1/2 years. Everyone is pleased that we will have the Texas Roadhouse at Merritt Park, but if we can’t fill Merritt Park, how are we going to fill more stores at the proposed Merritt Pavilion?

Where did the County Executive obtain his polling information about the support in opposition to the sale of North Point Government Center? Did he get it at either of the two meetings at Dundalk High School, where only a handful of the hundreds that attended, including his DRC were for the sale, while the hundreds were vehemently opposed to the sale. Was the poll obtained from one of his staff members or from Vanguard Development, Mr. Wineberg? I can tell you where it didn’t come from and that is the overwhelming amount of residents in the surrounding area, including over 5,000 residents who signed a petition in opposition to the sale of North Point Government Center to Commercial Development.

Mr. County Executive is really confused as to Open Space vs. Recreational Facilities and Parks. The North Point Government/Recreation Center and Park is designated in the inventory of both the State and the Baltimore County Master Plan as a park facility. The 21,000 to 24,000 square foot proposed new building (depending on who you talk to) cannot replace the nearly 50,000 square feet of intensely used indoor facilities currently used at North Point Government Center.

I have no idea what he is talking about when he states “We are not taking away a park, we are taking away a parking lot.” Unless the parking lot is the area under the high tension wires that the plan has so benevolently contributed as part of the County’s recreation land, similar to the storm water management acreage that will be used as runoff from the proposed shopping center.
The original RFP called for 15 acres for a shopping center and 12.43 acres as athletic fields. That figure diminishes with each plan we see (Plans for the facility are seldom shown to the public). The original plan showed four ball diamonds and two full sized soccer fields plus other amenities. The last Vanguard plan shown includes 2 diamonds and one mini soccer field, with a considerable amount of space used on the Grange Elementary School facility (Not part of the North Point complex).

I don’t know what purpose the three national chain restaurants would be to lie to the representatives of Dundalk United and Buzz Beeler. I do wonder why the County is so involved in the negotiation of stores coming to Merritt Pavilion when the County offered to sell North Point Government Center, appraised at 8.75 million to Vanguard for 2.1 million. I would have thought that would have been Vanguard’s responsibility to negotiate for store occupancy. By the way, with all the new proposed development in the area and the future potential need for additional schools in the area do you think Vanguard will reciprocate by finding Baltimore County a parcel of property for a school equal to North Point Government Center and sell it to the County for less than one fourth of the appraised value?

We have heard so much about the age of North Point, which was built in the mid 50s, ever since the County Administration decided to sell the facility in 2011 to commercial development and neglect maintenance on the facility to help justify the sale. There are numerous facilities all through the County older than the North Point Government Center, including the original Kenwood High School which was built in 1931 and is still serving as the Golden Ring Middle School. The 12th Precinct Police Station was placed at North Point in the mid 1980s and at the time it was considered a “State of the Art Police Facility.” A considerable amount of improvements could have been made at the North Point Police Station for the reported 6 million dollars it will cost to renovate the Eastwood Center. This does not include the paramount disruption to the education and recreation programs at Eastwood. By the way, if Mr. Kamenetz thinks that the consolidation of Eastwood Elementary and Holabird Middle Schools was such a success, he needs to talk to some of the parents, students and teachers at Holabird Middle School.

Since the very beginning, the sale of North Point Government/Recreation Center for Commercial Development has been a farce and a discredit to Baltimore County. It still remains a precedent throughout the State and possibly the Country to sell park land and recreation facilities to commercial development. It is nothing to be proud of. It is much closer to being a huge embarrassment!

Bob Staab

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