Fallston pushing for Youth's Benefit Elementary replacement

Fallston residents were urged last Thursday night to press their elected officials to get a new building for Youth's Benefit Elementary School.

The Parent-Teacher Association at Youth's Benefit has been working for a year and a half with the organization Build It Now to get the school buildings replaced, PTA President Laura Runyeon told the crowd at the Greater Fallston Association's general meeting Thursday night at Grandview Christian Church.

The county executive's proposed 2014 budget includes funding for the school, she added, but that would require the Harford County Board of Education to prioritize the project and the Harford County Council to approve it. At this point, a three-year countywide evaluation process to analyze capital improvement projects will delay the school building further, she said.

Runyeon urged people at the meeting to visit board of education and county council meetings to push the issue on a school she called "shovel-ready."

"The elementary school students of Harford County have an essential right to safe, secure and technologically advanced learning environment," Runyeon said.

Gas line proposed

Residents were also encouraged Thursday to give their input on a proposed gas line through the area.

The proposal is in the pre-filing stage, Beth Scheir, the former association vice president, said. But once it is filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, giving feedback for the project will become more complicated, she said.

The proposed route is "simply proposed," Scheir added, and nothing is set in stone.

"Now is the time to chat with FERC," she said. "As residents of the area, now is your time."

If approved, an additional line would be installed next to the existing one through the Fallston area, she said. Alex Oehler, a Columbia Gas spokesperson, attended Thursday's meeting and said the project is for Baltimore Gas and Electric to make the gas more reliable.

In terms of comments, Scheir added later, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requested individual comments and letters because anything sent that represents an association or community, like a petition, will only count as one comment on the proposal.

MTBE Update

Maryland Department of the Environment representative Susan Bull provided updates to the MTBE situation in the Fallston area. The main location, the Upper Crossroads Exxon, shows "favorable" numbers for methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether, or MTBE, levels.

In five years of sampling more than 300 wells more than 3,600 times, Bull said they found 22 with MTBE levels of more than 10 parts per billion. The action level, she added, is anything more than 20 parts per billion.

In recent testing, she added, most of the wells came in at non-detect levels, with the exception of two within the 5 to 10 parts per billion range. At those locations, groundwater pump and treatment began in 2006, Bull said, and last April Exxon officially entered into a post remediation plan with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Even so, she said, they continue to review data and monitor the situations, including one at the Fallston 7-Eleven, which in the Fall of 2008 upgraded its station, removing the old tanks to install state-of-the-art ones instead.

A third location MDE had been monitoring, the Fallston Service Center, has been tank free since 2006; the owner continues to sample, Bull said.

All of this testing came about after 2004, when homes and business wells in the Upper Crossroads area were found to have elevated MTBE levels.

Several local politicians visited the meeting, including Sens. Barry Glassman and J.B. Jennings, County Councilman Joe Woods and Del. Pat McDonough.

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