Community wins money for paving


Residents of Cedar-Villa Heights have won their 20-year battle to have the county pave two of the Jessup community's roads.

The 100-home historic African-American community off U.S. Route 1 is the recipient of a $100,000 federally funded community development block grant that is allocated by the state.

The county has agreed to pay the other 75 percent of the $396,000 cost for paving Hicks Lane and Franklin Drive. Residents said the roads are treacherous in the winter and full of potholes the rest of the year.

"Older communities have long been neglected by government," said County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, one of the county and state officials who discussed the project with neighborhood residents yesterday.

"We need partnerships where the state and local government are working together for the benefit of the community."

Also on hand at Community Baptist Church on Cedar Avenue yesterday were Jacqueline H. Rogers, Maryland's secretary of housing and community development; Del. Virginia M. Thomas, a District 13-A Democrat and former Cedar-Villa Heights representative; and Leonard Vaughan of the county's office of housing and community development.

Franklin Drive, a dirt and gravel road, runs parallel to U.S. Route 1. It intersects Hicks Lane, which doesn't have an outlet at one end and leads into U.S. Route 1 at the other. Hicks Lane has not been paved since the 1960s.

Mr. Gray said the roads were left unpaved for so long because they were not county roads until recently. Construction is to begin next year and should be completed in the fall of 1996. Mr. Gray said land design will begin within the next few months.

In addition to paving the roads, a drainage system, sewer lines and sidewalks will be installed. Other benefits of county ownership of the roads include maintenance and snow removal.

Michael A. Sagar, a Hicks Lane resident for nine months, said the county takeover of the roads is overdue.

He said it was surprising that "we didn't have coffins lined up in this church last winter. . . . If it wasn't for the mound of snow at

the bottom of the road serving as a bumper, everyone's car would have gone straight out on U.S. Route 1."

Arthur E. Hicks, for whom Hicks Lane is named, said he urged the county to pave the road in the 1960s. The county eventually did so, with the agreement that he would maintain the street.

Now 84 years old, Mr. Hicks said he couldn't keep up with the potholes.

When Franklin Drive is paved, its street sign will read "Charlie Joyner Drive" in memory of the immediate past president of the Cedar-Villa Heights Community Association.

Before his death in 1989 of a heart attack, Mr. Joyner was instrumental in making sure the community received a sewage system -- until 1980, residents used outhouses -- and a community park on Cedar Avenue.

Geneva Joyner, the late Mr. Joyner's wife, said she petitioned county officials to agree to the name change.

Paving the two Cedar-Villa Heights roads is one of four Howard County projects that received grant money this year from the federally funded Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program.

The money is dispensed by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development.

Promise Place, a home for pregnant women in Woodbine, received $70,000. Grassroots, a Columbia homeless shelter, received $140,000 for the rehabilitation of shelter sites, and the Howard County Human Rights Office received $33,000 for fair housing activities.

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