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GARAGE, GROWTH IMPORTANT TO COMMISSIONER HOPEFULS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

* Arnold, a Bel Air lawyer, says only half-jokingly that he wants tobe elected to Bel Air's Board of Commissioners so he can "straightenthese people out on parking."

Arnold, 29, said the current board is "obsessed" by the town's new multilevel parking garage on Hickory Avenue, which has not attracted many users.

"Sure, we need to get the garage use up, but there are a lot of long-range issues that need to be addressed, such as what areas shouldbe developed, and there's annexation," said Arnold, running for one of two open commissioner seats in the March 12 election.

Arnold, who has lived within the town limits since October, graduated from BelAir High School in 1979. He has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of West Virginia and holds a degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

He serves on the Bel Air Youth Center's board of directors and is a member of the Greater Fallston Democratic Club.

Arnold said he would like to see the town government work to attract new businesses that are architecturally compatible with and complement existing businesses.

"The town's doing pretty well, but with inflation, and without an additional source of commercialtax income, it could be tough," he said.

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CAPTION: Donald J. Arnold

MADELEINE W. GRANT

* Grant says the interest in government that prompted her to run for the board began in the days she spent as a teacher at John Carroll High School.

"I taught a class called Community Problems, and I would ask government officialsto come in and talk to the class," said Grant, now the executive director of the Edgewood Multi-Purpose Youth Center.

"It created a lifelong interest in government, and now that I have such a flexible schedule, it seemed like the perfect time to run."

Grant, who declined to give her age, said she thought the board could use "a few more gray heads." Candidates are not required to give their ages on election filing papers.

Grant, who taught at John Carroll for 22 years, has lived in Bel Air for three years.

She said she has always loved Bel Air's small-town atmosphere and wants to work to preserve it. "I'd drop my daughters off at the theater in Bel Air, and I'd tell them if you have a problem just go down to Courtland Hardware and ask Mr. (Eugene) Graybeal to use his phone," Grant said. "That's the kind of town Bel Air was, and still is, for that matter."

But Bel Air has problems it must address to cope with its growth, says Grant.

"Bel Air is going to have to make some decisions about water sources," said Grant. "And they have to get some use out of that parking garage. It lends itself to obsession -- I mean, look at that thing."

Shesaid the town must work harder to relieve traffic congestion, but that doesn't necessarily mean adding more traffic lights.

"They're adding another traffic light on U.S. 1. Why? Traffic's already backed up without adding another light along that stretch," Grant said.

Bel Air also must work harder to attract "nice, clean little businesses that contribute a great deal to tax revenues."

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CAPTION: Madeleine W. Grant

EUGENE GRAYBEAL

* It's been 40 yearssince Graybeal first ran for the town board.

At 74, he's making his second try to become a commissioner. He thinks he has more to offer now.

"I can give the job a little more experience and some different insights," said Graybeal, who operated Courtland Hardware on Bond Street until he retired.

"One advantage to getting older is thatyou've run into more situations and learned to handle them."

Graybeal, who has lived on West Gordon Street just outside the town limits much of his life, moved eight months ago to a home two blocks away from his old residence and just inside the town.

Graybeal was president of the committee that drafted Harford'scounty charter in 1970, and served 10 years, including a term as president, on the county Board of Education. He also served five years on Harford Community College's Board of Trustees.

He still serves on the board of the Liriodendron Mansion and is a member of the Al Cesky scholarship committee.

Graybeal said he would support the town planning department's proposal to revamp the Bond Street business area to attract more commercial businesses and improve pedestrian walkways on the street.

Attracting more commercial businesses could broaden the town's tax base,said Graybeal, adding that he would like to see town property taxes "stay low."

"But there's been more discussion about the parking garage

than anything else," Graybeal said. "It is a couple years ahead of its time, and when people are not used to paying for parking, it takes them a while to get used to it. But it will fill up eventually, and it will be an asset to the town."

Traffic in Bel Air, however,is one situation that isn't improving, Graybeal said.

"Traffic has always been a problem, but there are ways traffic can be expedited,new ways to get around town," he said. "When you go north out of Gordon Street, for instance, you have to make that little detour at Bondand Gordon streets. There must be a better solution."

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CAPTION: Eugene Graybeal

SUSAN MCCOMAS

* McComas, 39, saysshe wants to be re-elected commissioner so she can help the town walk the fine line between attracting more commercial business and controlling growth.

"We definitely want to attract commercial businesses, but we don't want to do it at the expense of neighborhood life," said McComas, a Bel Air lawyer. "But we don't want to say 'no growth,'either."

McComas, a Bel Air commissioner for four years, is up for re-election March 12. Her seat and the one being vacated by Peter Schlehr are open this year.

In two years, the other three seats on the board will be open.

"There are a lot of things that still needdoing," said McComas. "We have to secure our water supply."

She said that town administrators have met with Harford County and Baltimore City officials to discuss tapping into the Baltimore City water main which runs through Harford and how much tapping into the line would cost Bel Air water-users. She declined to outline details of the proposals being discussed or which ones she supports.

McComas also wants to see Bel Air develop the Hoza property "as an emerald in parks, something Bel Air could take pride in." The property was donated tothe town last fall.

She said the new park should have both passive recreation, such as trails for hiking, and active recreation areas,such as ball fields.

"I'd also like to see the town get more involved in recycling," she said. "Even if there are no markets for a lotof materials, the town can still encourage citizens to recycle and bring pressure to create a market."

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CAPTION: SusanMcComas

JOSEPH P. MEADOWS

* Meadows, a county assistant state'sattorney, says he wants to be elected a commissioner so he can prevent higher taxes and preserve the historic integrity of Bel Air.

"Iwant to make sure a couple of things don't happen," said Meadows, 30, elected to the Harford County Republican State Central Committee last fall. "I want to make sure people in the towndon't pay the price for state budget shortfalls by having to pay higher taxes, and I'd like to see the historic quality of the town preserved."

Bel Air is one of the few towns in Maryland with a quaint, well-preserved Main Street and other areas which have a special history that should be promoted, he said.

"We want to make sure the history is preserved, butwe also have to promote local businesses, because that's how you increase tax revenues," said Meadows.

Managing the town's water supply is another problem Bel Air must address in the next few years, Meadows said, though he had no specific proposals. A study commissioned by the town last year shows customer demand for water could equal the supply by 1991.

Meadows also wants to change the operation of the town's under-used parking garage.

"It's got to be more convenient for people to use; we need to have a manned booth so people are more comfortable and more secure," said Meadows. "The current system does not work, and we're losing revenue in the town every day the garage is not used."

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CAPTION: Joseph P. Meadows

FELIX TARASCO

* Tarasco insists he's just a taxpayer, not a politician. Still, he's running for a commissioner's seat.

"I feel if you pay taxes, you should see some services other than trash collection and the police department, the only two recognizable things you get from paying Bel Air's tax," said Tarasco, 45, an account executive for Cavanaugh Press.

"And I think Bel Air is a microcosm of Maryland government, and we need to see the town act more for the people, act more as a voice for the people."

He has another vision for Bel Air, too.

"Our Main Street could be the center of small-town America," said Tarasco. "Look at Ellicott City -- the Main Street goes down a hill, yet people flock there. I'd like to see more antique shops or retail businesses in Bel Air, not just more lawyers' offices."

To achieve that dream, Tarasco said he thinks Bel Air has to come up with better solutions to its traffic congestion and water supply problems.

"Traffic is terrible. On a Saturday morning, it takes 45 minutes to get from one end of town to the other," said Tarasco. "And it's hightime the county took over the water system. Instead, we allow the Maryland-American Water Co. to operate it."

But no matter which entity operates the water system, Tarasco said, the town and county must work together to reach an agreement with Baltimore City to connect tothe "big inch" -- a water line the city owns that stretches along Interstate 95 from the Susquehanna River through Harford County to the Baltimore County line.

NOTE: SEE MAIN STORY (ISSUES CLEAR, BUT NUMBERSEEKING OFFICE IS CONFUSING)

ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO

CAPTION: Felix Tarasco

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