October 24, 2015 7:51 pm ET
The Battle Continues in this Letter to the Sun
This letter was printed in the letters to the editor section of the Baltimore Sun. It is being reprinted at request of the citizens who oppose the sale of the Government Center.
Subject: RE: Open Space, North Point Government Center Park and Board of Public Works by: Ronald R. Schaeffer
I read with interest the 10/14/15 Baltimore Sun article regarding the Baltimore County Council’s efforts to raise open space fees in Towson. Kudos to Councilman Marks. Our county government also gives our citizens the opportunity to donate for the acquisition of open space when we pay our property tax bill. At the ballot box, the citizens of Baltimore County have always supported the recreation and parks bond referendums for the acquisition of open space. All of these efforts are good things as “almost” everyone agrees that open space is an essential component of the quality of life in our communities.
Despite the widespread acceptance of the importance of open space, County Executive Kamenetz (in 2012) initiated the unprecedented action of selling off open space for commercial development in the Dundalk community. This is an area which is seriously deficient in open space. The sale in question involves 27.43 acres of designated parkland held in public trust and used by the community for over 60 years.
In December of 2013, Baltimore County was requested to table its consideration of the sale of this land until such time as the Board of Public Works could weigh in on the issue. The Board’s prior approval is required by a deed covenant which has been in existence since 1981. The county turned a deaf ear to this reasonable request for delay. In July of 2015 (almost 3 years after proposing its unprecedented action of selling parkland for commercial development), the county initiated a request that would require Board of Public Works consideration of its proposal. To be clear, the status of this matter before the Board is a result of the county’s belated request, not the result of any action initiated by the Board. The Board of Public Works consists of 3 intelligent, independent individuals. The selling of parkland for commercial purposes represents a major public policy shift regarding the importance of open space in our society. North Point Government Center Park lies adjacent to a Chesapeake Bay Critical Area boundary. In the event the Board does not agree with Mr. Kamenetz in his effort to sell off parkland which has traditionally been held in trust for our children and grandchildren, it should be applauded not criticized for its courage.
Ronald R. Schaeffer Dundalk, MD email@example.com