Grants to give Aberdeen 'splash pad,' Bakerfield Elementary improvements

Festival Park will get a new "splash pad" and Bakerfield Elementary School will get sidewalk improvements as part of several new grants announced by the City of Aberdeen Monday night.

The "splash pad" will be installed in 2013 at a cost of $100,000, a grant from the Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space, Aberdeen's planning and community development director Phyllis Grover said.

A grant from the Safe Route to School program in the amount of $61,700 will also go toward sidewalks, crosswalks and other exterior improvements at Mount Royal Avenue near Bakerfield Elementary, she said.

Work has started on facade improvements to J.P. Chevrolet, a $25,000 Community Legacy grant funded for Fiscal Year 2011.

Grover said more than 400 brochures have been mailed to business and property owners to inform them of the program, as $50,000 remains available.

An additional $10,000 from the Baltimore Sustainable Communities Initiative will let the city do zoning and development code amendments to accommodate transit-oriented development.

During the work session, council members also discussed proposed changes to the ethics ordinance, which City Manager Doug Miller said still has to be altered a bit to accommodate requested state changes, including codifying the disclosure form for government-related expenses.

Mayor Mike Bennett and Councilman Bruce Garner expressed concern about the amount of disclosure required of candidates running for office, saying it discourages people from getting involved in politics.

"This is one of the issues the [Maryland Municipal League] has been looking at," Bennett, the league's former president, said. "What we in the MML have said is, you start limit people who step forward to run for local elected office because you make the task so onerous that no one wants to bare their life, their life savings, the house they have, maybe a home they worked hard to get."

Garner agreed, saying: "You're talking about getting younger people involved but …you've got young people who wouldn't even think about running for office with all this."

Miller said: "I think it discourages people who would say, 'I think I'll run for city council or I'll run for mayor.' They look at that and say, 'I have no interest in doing that.'"

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