An alternative suggestion to the proposed waste transfer station for the former Plecker property on Route 7 was presented to the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council at its monthly meeting last week.
Jared Noe, owner of production company Noe Way Out Studios in Baltimore, wants to build an indoor sports arena on the property the Harford County government acquired last year for a future waste transfer station that the community opposes.
"We were looking at sites all around the county," Noe said during the Dec. 4 community council meeting at the sheriff's Southern Precinct. "We spoke with [County Councilman Dion Guthrie] and this is exactly what we were looking for."
The proposed arena, to be known as Asylum Sports Arena, would serve as a facility primarily for youth to play box lacrosse and in-line hockey, Noe, a Harford County native and North Harford High School graduate, said.
"No other [local] venue has specialized in these two areas," Noe said. He added, however, that the arena would "not just be a hockey venue and would not just be a lacrosse venue."
A brief video Noe presented at the meeting demonstrated the possible entertainment options for the proposed area, including roller derby, music concerts, mixed martial arts matches, arena football and numerous other activities. Even professional indoor hockey and lacrosse leagues had expressed interest, Noe said.
"The NLL (National Lacrosse League) said that they want to bring their preseason here," Noe said.
Noe stressed that the arena wasn't meant to impact other athletic activities in the county, such as soccer clubs or ice skating.
"It's not our intention to push out any businesses that we have," Noe said.
Joppa council member Vince Rabenau liked the idea.
"It's more practical than big Mack trucks going back and forth [on Route 7]," Rabenau said of the transfer station plan, although he added that traffic would still be bad in the immediate area.
Noe said that they would get help from local police to assist with traffic, as he estimated that a hockey or football game would bring in 2,000 to 3,000 fans. He stressed that he wasn't seeking any tax dollars to develop the facility.
"We're not trying to take taxpayer money for this thing," Noe said. "We're trying to buy it from the county."
The county acquired the 24-acre property, which was home to a defunct golf center, for $2.9 million.
"I really think this it's a great idea," Guthrie said. "Whether it's at [the Plecker property] or not, there are a lot of kids who are looking for something like this."
Noe urged anyone interested to e-mail email@example.com and to fill out a survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LZPL9XB .
Transfer station update
The status of the waste transfer station also was brought up at the meeting. Guthrie said that the station would likely be in the solid waste bill to be introduced by County Executive David Craig at a County Council meeting in the second or third week of January.
Regarding Craig, Guthrie said that regarding the waste transfer station, "he seems to be ..."
"Remorseful?" Joppa Council Member Gloria Moon interjected, drawing laughter from the audience.
"Weakening," Guthrie finished, smiling.
Actually, the county executive may have already done so. The next day, during a press conference on his priorities for the final two years of his administration, Craig said he is looking for the "most effective way to handle this very expensive thing," but also revealed he had asked the Army to extend by two years the county's contract to dispose of the bulk of its trash at the waste-to-energy incinerator at Aberdeen Proving Ground that had been due to close in 2016.
Moon added that the mid-January County Council meeting would be a "big one."
"We will have to fill it up," Moon said. She said the council planned to send out notices and distribute T-shirts to show opposition to the station.
County fire department
Joppa council member Ron Sollod, who is secretary of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, said that fire company members have been opposed to Craig's plan for a county department to oversee operations of the independent volunteer fire companies.
The plan, according to Guthrie, is to create a cabinet-level position, or czar to run fire services.
"Command and control cannot be run by someone who doesn't how the fire service runs," Sollod said.
"There are some things that need to be tweaked; some things that need to be changed," Sollod acknowledged regarding fire department operations, but added: "If you think that your taxes are not going to go up if they take it over, think again."
"It will cost $45 million to take over the fire department," Sollod said. He said fire service members planned to "come out in force" to the county council meeting where the executive order creating the new department will be discussed. The hearing date has been pushed back to Dec. 18 to give fire service leaders the opportunity to review a revised plan drafted by Craig.
Also at the community council meeting, Tom Fare, a second grade teacher at Halls Cross Roads Elementary School and a member of the Board of Directors for the Harford County Education Association, spoke about the need for more education funding in Harford County.
"Joppatowne High School doesn't have a magnet program, and repairs are needed at many schools," including Joppatowne High, Fare said.
"We're trying to change funding priorities in Harford County," Fare said. "We ask that you come out and take a stand at the January [Harford County Budget Meeting] at Aberdeen High School."
Larry Ginsburg, also a member of the teachers union, likewise asked for community support for education funding.
"We're the sixth richest county, per capita in the state and we're 18th in education funding," Ginsburg said. "Something's wrong."
In community council news, member Yvonne Baldwin announced that she had tendered her resignation. Moon explained Chairperson Paula Mullis' absence from the meeting was because of health reasons.