As the Maryland General Assembly readies to convene its 438th session on Jan. 10, area legislators have a few sites on their minds: the Rosewood Center, New Town High School and the Pikesville Armory foremost among them.
For District 11 state Sen. Sen. Bobby Zirkin and Dels. Shelly Hettleman, Dr. Dan K. Morhaim and Dana Stein, keeping Stevenson University on track after its takeover of the former Rosewood Center in 2017, studying a possible stadium for New Town High, the future of the Pikesville Armory, as well as crime concerns, are priorities.
The state’s Board of Public Words approved the sale of the former Rosewood Center — for $1 — to Stevenson in June. Some $16 million in state grants will help finish what the school in June called “environmental abatement and remediation of the Rosewood site before the State transfers final deed to the property.”
The 117-acre site is adjacent to the school’s Owings Mills and Owings Mills North campuses and will almost double the university’s footprint. Recreational athletic fields and other amenities should be in place for public use once the project is completed in the coming years.
Zirkin, a driving force in the long process, said he’s happy with the progress.
“Rosewood was the big ticket, and that is now continuing,” Zirkin said. “The buildings are coming down already, and they’re taking care of the environmental issues.”
Morhaim agreed that the move will help the community in a variety of ways.
‘We’re all really pleased that Stevenson University has finally been given the Rosewood campus,” he said. “That’s a gigantic step forward. It adds to the culture; it adds to the economy. It also keeps that land available for public use.”
Another longtime public property will be discussed in the coming months. Gov. Larry Hogan formed the Commission on the Future of the Pikesville Armory in September.
The building was erected in 1903, but as reported in The Baltimore Sun, the military no longer needs the 14-acre site. The armory joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, so whatever is recommended for the building/site must remain consistent with the designation.
Zirkin will chair the commission, with work on the project starting shortly.
Hettleman talked about getting New Town High School a stadium. New Town opened in 2003, but the fields used for sports such as football don’t have a stadium-type structure surrounding them for fans. She’d like to see that changed with something more permanent in place.
“New Town High School is one of the few high schools that does not have a stadium,” she said. “We’ll have to look at that.” Unlike most schools, New Town has just a couple of small sets of stands for spectators.
Stein said that they’ll be trying to obtain capital support from the state and county for a stadium. Zirkin added that private funding also would be needed, so any project remains in flux at this point.
Crime concerns also need addressing, the legislators said. Stein recently met with the Police Community Relations Council for the Pikesville district, and increased crime committed by juveniles was a chief issue. In general, juvenile crimes have spiked in the city, and Pikesville straddles the city line.
“I’ve heard [concerns] about this at a lot of places,” Stein said. “I think most of the people realize (solutions include) both a change to the criminal justice system as well as more long-term approaches. The immediate response is what can we do (now)?”
Zirkin, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said its top priority will be a package of legislation dealing with Baltimore City violence, although he agreed some of that crime is finding its way into the county, especially Pikesville.
“Crime doesn’t stop at the city borders,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen a huge escalation of violent crime … in the city, and it’s crept into our areas.”
Each legislator also will be pushing some individual causes. Zirkin is interested in cyber-bullying and cyber-defamation. “The harassment statute in place doesn’t protect well enough," he said.
Hettleman wants to see public employees undergo sexual harassment training. “We have no requirement that public employees go through sexual harassment training,” she said. “I'd like to put in a model training program."
She’d also like to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over a number of years. Maryland’s minimum wage is due to go to $10.10 an hour by July 2018.
Morhaim, who was formally reprimanded by the House of Delegates last session for advocating for policies that benefit medical marijuana companies without fully disclosing that he was a paid consultant for one, plans to continue focusing on addiction and how it relates to crime.
“I’ve been working on that for a long, long time,” he said. “Public safety is incredibly important, and we’ve had a very heavy approach called the 'War on Drugs,' which doesn’t work.”
Stein’s points of emphasis include what happens with newly announced improvements to the Baltimore Beltway (695) due to concerns about congestion, especially on the west side. Gov. Hogan announced last month that the state will spend $461 million to ease congestion on the northern rim of the Beltway.