The Aegis
The Aegis Opinion

Ahoy, Joppatowne, a new mariner statue accentuates the positive for the community, county government [Editorial]

The new mariner statue in Joppatowne's Mariner Point Park.

Last week's unveiling of the new mariner statue in Joppatowne's Mariner Point Park is a positive development for a community where many of the residents are fearful decay has set in, and not just in the beloved original statue, erected in 2002, that fell apart from exposure to the elements.

We've heard from a lot of residents in the past year, if not longer, about concerns their community's high school might close, of deteriorating school buildings, the loss of the community swimming pool and the lack of a community gathering place such as can be found in places like neighboring Edgewood and in Fallston a few miles north. On the bright side, the loss of the waterfront community's only marina was temporary, as a new owner has come in and re-opened the facility.


The new mariner statue, meanwhile, is a beautiful sight to behold, impressive to, when you consider it stands 12-feet high from base to the top of the mariner's yellow foul weather hat. The 8-foot-tall mariner was crafted by artist Paul Waclo from a single piece of white pine, employing chainsaws and more traditional woodworking tools, according to Harford County Parks & Recreation, which runs the park and commissioned the new statue.

An interesting point made by county government is that the new mariner statue was paid for with revenue collected from the county's 18-month-old hotel/lodging tax. While The Aegis long supported the implementation of such a tax, which we refuse to call a "fee" unlike some other advocates, we've not been totally comfortable with the notion all the money raised by the tax should go for "tourism" related activities, which can take on all sorts of meanings, not necessarily in the best interest of the public.


Since it got the tax on the books – after many of its predecessors failed – the administration of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has been transparent about where the lodging tax money goes, announcing the award of money this year and last to a variety of organizations, which must go through a competitive grant application process. In the end, however, the county executive gets to choose where the money gets spent; this is not line item budgeting subject to county council review, like most other expenditures.

The Mariner Point Park mariner statue is obviously a good use of public funds, regardless of the source, and frankly, whether it brings in more visitors to Joppatowne or it doesn't, a new statue is something that was needed in a community which indeed needs a little cheering up.

Choices in the governing process aren't all black and white, nor are they always in everyone's best interest. But when they are right, we're going to say it, and the new mariner was definitely a right decision by our county executive and the people working with him.