When County Executive David Craig won election, I recall hearing him articulate his vision for our county.
Essentially, what I heard him say, was that he wanted to develop the kind of county where all of its citizens could live, work and play - right here in Harford County. He went on to say that he wanted to develop a county in which our children could receive a world class education and not have to leave Harford County to find good paying jobs. This vision was articulated before BRAC led to the creation of the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor.
The county executive has made great strides toward achieving his vision by building state-of-the art facilities where world-class teaching and learning takes place, but there is still more vision-building that can be accomplished during the last two years of a Craig Administration, specifically in the Edgewood community.
When you think of Edgewood, the first thing that comes to mind is a community plagued with crime and violence - an unsafe place in which to raise a family, get a quality education or invest in a business. There is anecdotal evidence that would suggest that most, if not all, of the crime committed in Edgewood can be attributed to individuals who don't have a vested interest in the community.
Evidence would also suggest that communities with high percentages of home ownership don't experience the kind of problems and at the same rate as is the case in Edgewood. One reason for this is because home ownership helps build self-sustaining neighborhoods and communities. And, self-sustaining neighborhoods and communities tend not to attract individuals that participate in criminal activity.
So then, one of our long range goals should be to increase the percentage of homeownership in Edgewood. However, increasing the home ownership percentages will require that we collectively take reasonable and necessary measures to stop the downward spiral, first.
The Edgewood community did not earn its image overnight and most rational individuals agree that we can't simply arrest our way to an improved image. And, with a few exceptions, there appears to be a shortage of new ideas (or political will) coming from the current cast of elected/appointed officials.
As we continue to do the same things that we have always done, it should be no surprise that we keep getting the same results.
I'd like to take this opportunity to propose a couple of reasonable and prudent steps that the Craig Administration should lead that could kick-start Edgewood's recovery. It should be mentioned that a recovery in Edgewood would be mutually beneficial to all of the stakeholders in Harford County.
First, we must pass and aggressively enforce a strong Livability Code/legislation that holds landlords accountable to and for those to whom they rent their property. If we do this, we will be sending a strong message to the rental community and a signal to the private sector investment community that Edgewood is a good investment. It sends the message that we are willing to undertake every reasonable and necessary measure available to help improve the image of/quality of life in Edgewood.
Second, since most people agree that we can't arrest our way to an improved image, we should look at how "strategic" (as opposed to opportunistic) development can help to improve the image of Edgewood. And one of Edgewood's closest neighbors (Aberdeen Proving Ground-Edgewood Area) could be the catalyst in this effort.
The Chem/Bio defense leadership at the APG-EA has been telling anyone willing to listen about the plans to make the Edgewood Area of APG the center for the nation's Chem/Bio Research and Development. This is huge for Harford County, but especially for the Edgewood Community. It means that my community is in a perfect position to benefit from the growth associated with this effort.
So the path forward could start with local government identifying and gathering all of the stakeholders to conduct an in-depth critical review of the Master Plan (as it relates to land use in Edgewood). This review could lead to renewed interest in Edgewood by the private sector and send a message to the community and the rest of Harford County about Edgewood's potential. At the very least, it would lay the foundation that the next county executive could build upon.
Finally, the Edgewood Area of APG will become the center for chem/bio Research and Development for the nation - that is a fact. Security for this installation does not start or end at the gate. It starts in the community that is immediately surrounding or adjacent to the facility.
So it is imperative that we take reasonable measures to stabilize the Edgewood community, if for no other reason than for the security of this vitally important military installation.
Jansen Robinson, Chair
Edgewood Community Council