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Community to help itself


A standing-room-only crowd of Essex-Middle River business, government and community leaders signed on yesterday to Baltimore County's plan for conserving older communities -- starting with their own.

The meeting at the Essex library drew more than 100 people who volunteered for duty on 10 committees that are to design a specific plan for their area by September.

Essex-Middle River, with its aging population, growing poverty and crime, and deteriorating apartment complexes, is ripe for decline if nothing is done, the group was told by P. David Fields, the Community Conservation Program director; Mary Emerick, the county's Eastside coordinator; and Jack Dillon, a senior county planner.

John Davis, a landlord in the area, offered the only concrete suggestion -- one that in part echoed a proposal by County Council Chairman Vincent Gardina: "How about bulldozing Riverdale Village, downzone it, and sell it to a developer who will build single-family houses on it?"

Ms. Emerick said that solution for the half-vacant, rundown complex of 1,100 World War II vintage apartments is possible, but may be too expensive for the county.

Mr. Fields said that when the conservation plan is complete, the county will hold public meetings in all areas to get more comments before it is considered by the county executive and council. According to an outline of the program, the goals set in the community plans are to be financed through bonds, depending on voter approval in 1996.

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