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Just find the center [Editorial]

Plans to revitalize, or perhaps completely redo, Edgewood came to the fore again last week when the second public session of the Edgewood Small Area Study was held.

As we said in these columns after the first such meeting was held in July, trying to revitalize Edgewood, as has been proposed numerous times over the past 70 or so years, is a daunting challenge. It’s also one of the parts of the conundrum of why little to nothing has been accomplished.

Edgewood doesn’t have an identity because it doesn’t have an identity. Bel Air has the courts, the public buildings and all the trappings of a county seat that add to the vibrancy of its Main Street. Havre de Grace has its Revolutionary War history and its waterfront charm.

Edgewood has neither a central location, nor a central persona that easily translates into a central identity. Edgewood also doesn’t have a central park around which to build.

What it does have, as we opined in July, is not only a strong sense of community, but also a proud populace that believes in Edgewood and see it as a good place to live.

The future for Edgewood has come up this time because of a federally funded effort to look at community development around the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground. Among other past efforts to revitalize Edgewood was a drive that eventually fell short to incorporate Edgewood. That was partially motivated by a desire to give those in the Edgewood community a sense of place.

As with many places, some in Edgewood rally around their schools as the centers of their community life.

It’s understandable that many people would want more. And they should have it, but what that is has proven elusive. The area set aside for the Edgewood Small Study Area might not be conducive to transforming the greater community, but it’s certainly worth taking a look at that area first.

The core of the redevelopment plan is in an area bounded by Hanson Road on the north, Route 24 on the west, Edgewood Road on the east and the Amtrak rail lines to the south.

For decades, Edgewood has struggled to find an identity, other than the one generated by a few bad sections of the community that have been the victims of woes wrought by crime, drugs and violence. The Harford County Sheriff’s Office and other county leaders have tried, with mixed results, to eradicate, or at least beat back, those unsavory elements.

Let’s face it, there are bad parts everywhere, including in some of Harford County’s best communities. That hasn’t kept some of them from moving forward and it shouldn’t hold Edgewood back, either.

The only thing that could hold the community back is not discovering or figuring out its magnetic center, that will attract people to that part of Edgewood, and growing its long sought after sense of place from there.

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