Bel Air plans pedestrian path to connect Rockfield Park, high school

The Town of Bel Air is taking small steps to create a pedestrian path connecting Rockfield Park with Bel Air High School.

One of the first steps toward that goal was taken Tuesday evening when members of the Board of Town Commissioners approved an easement across one private property during their town meeting.

The 8-foot wide easement across 404 Giles St. was approved unanimously by the four commissioners present. Mayor Edward Hopkins, who had a death in his family, was absent.

Town Planning Director Kevin Small explained the town eventually hopes to develop a pedestrian path from Rockfield's parking lot off of Ewing Street to Giles Street and then to Maitland Street and on to Main Street and then, as a long-term goal, from Main Street through Bailey's Lane to the high school.

While the proposal is contained in the town's Bike and Pedestrian Plan, Small cautioned there is no timetable for completing the project.

The Giles Street easement became available under an agreement between the town and Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, which recently built a new home on the property after razing a dwelling that had been vacant for several years and was in disrepair.

Another Habitat home

The town commissioners also passed an resolution authorizing Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna to received state investment tax credits.

At the conclusion of the town meeting, Habitat Executive Director Karen Blandford thanked the commissioners for their continued support and said the organization plans a second home in Bel Air.

This time, Blandford said, they plan to rehabilitate a home on Archer Street that was purchased at auction. The nonprofit Habitat for Humanity organization restores existing homes or builds new ones and makes them affordable to lower income buyers who agree to participate in the construction/rehabilitation process.

"Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions," the organization states on its website.

Blandford said the house recently built on the Giles Street property was one of the largest the organization has done in Harford and Cecil counties, while the house on Archer, which she noted had been vacant for some time, may well be their smallest.

Officer promoted

The town board members also welcomed the promotion of police officer Travis Foreman to the rank of officer first class.

Foreman was joined by Chief Leo Matrangola as board Vice Chairman Robert Reier read off a list of Foreman's accomplishments, among them numerous arrests and accident investigations and completion of specialized training in police bicycle patrolling, radar operation, interview and interrogation and street narcotics for patrol officers.

Foreman joined BAPD in August 2011 after serving in the Baltimore City Police Department for about a year and a half. A 2001 graduate of Harford Technical High School, where he studied horticulture, he had previously owned and operated a landscaping business. Those skills became useful, Reier noted, when Foreman became instrumental in the design and continued maintenance of the garden that was planted around the police monument designed by the town's late Deputy Police Chief Armand Dupre.

"Travis is one of those police officers who does a little bit extra," Matrangola said. "He's the kind of guy who wants to do a little bit more."

As an example, Matrangola said, Foreman has done neighborhood bike patrols in some neighborhoods, the chief noting that kids out to make mischief don't notice an officer on a bike they way do when they are in a patrol car.

With his promotion, Foreman will move from the midnight shift to criminal investigations unit later this month.

Computer purchase OK

The town commissioners also approved the purchase of three CF-31 Panasonic Toughbook computers, plus installation, docking stations and equipment for the town's three newest police cars.

The $17,778 purchase is from Brekford Corp. of Hanover, which has equipped other town police cars with peripheral equipment in the past.

Matrangola said maintenance for the new equipment will be shared between the town, the Harford County Sheriff's Office and the county government radio shop.

Appointments approved

The town commissioners approved the appointment of Patti Banick to the Historic Preservation Commission.

They also approved the reappointment of Wilbur Bolton III to the Board of Ethics.

The next town meeting will be Monday, Sept. 16, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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