I was dismayed by our county executive's comments regarding the proposed Clarksville Commons project. A few observations are foremost in the mind of this citizen and longtime resident of this area.
The Kendalls have been a part of our community longer than our young county executive has been alive. This family hardware business has been the linchpin of Clarksville. The loyalty of their customers is evidenced by the fact that their small, World War II-era-quonset-hut-based store survived a competitive battle with another operator who opened a short distance away in a much larger newer building. The Clarkville community was loyal to our original rural hardware store. It had everything the larger store stocked and in addition supplied good advice and neighborly friendship as part the bargain. Ironically, the Kendalls have now taken over that building and still continue to serve their friends and customers of this area.
Fast forward to the present. Another competitor would like to not only establish a competing business presence but wants to use the property of the Kendalls to do so. I have some news for them and Ken Ulman. The easement in question belongs to the Kendalls. Consequently, its value is whatever they deem it to be.
As to Mr. Ulman's desire for the "forward thinking development" he's envisioned for years, I suggest he do two things. First of all, the surplus property belonging to the citizens of Howard County should be sold to the highest bidder and the receipts of the sale returned to its rightful owners — the taxpayers of this county — in the form of property-tax reduction. Secondly, he should leave public life, raise the necessary capital and put together a development project to his liking. Once he has done so, perhaps he will have a greater respect for the private property of the citizens of this wonderful county.
Finally, I am especially disturbed by his comment that "we'll have to see where it goes." If he is contemplating using the power of eminent domain to effect a taking of the Kendall property, he will start a divisive battle in our community. Those of us who remember the establishment of Columbia recall how it split the county into factions. Fortunately, those wounds are for the most part healed and forgotten. An attempt to condemn private property and transfer it to a developer would certainly reopen those sores.
I hope that he does not intend to use the power of his office for such an undertaking. I for one will vigorously oppose any attempt to do so.