Black Flag for Proposed Track
I would like to comment concerning the editorial, "Black Flag for Harford Race Track?" (April 3). I applaud County Executive Eileen Rehrmann and Havre de Grace Mayor Gunther Hirsch for declaring their opposition to the race track proposal. A facility of this type would be a horrific intrusion upon the quality of life and well-being of nearby residents, for obvious reasons (noise level annoyance, air pollution, traffic congestion and decline in property values). My feelings are shared by many.
Working on behalf of Citizens Against the Racetrack (CAR), a colleague and I recently circulated a petition among our fellow residents of Windemere, a community of more than 100 homes in Aberdeen. Signatures indicating strong opposition to the track were obtained from approximately 90 percent of these homeowners. Petitions were also circulated to neighboring communities within Aberdeen, with consistent results: the overwhelming majority of our residents are strongly opposed to the racetrack.
Concerning your statement, "the decision on the race track should, in any case, be left to Havre de Grace," the proposed site lies approximately midway between Havre de Grace and Aberdeen. Thus, this should not be only a Havre de Grace issue. The Aberdeen communities referred to above are within two miles of the site and many other small developments and individual homes within a few miles of the site are on county land, not part of the cities of Havre de Grace or Aberdeen. Many non-Havre de Grace residents, such as those in the small community of Glen Heights, are virtually in the "backyard" of the site.
I hope that the city and county councils will do whatever is necessary to stop this project dead in its tracks. If not, the decision should be based on the vote of all residents who stand to be so adversely affected.
Robert E. Walther
On April 1, I was one of hundreds of residents to attend the Aberdeen Proving Grounds community meeting at Edgewood High School. I am still a little numb, and am not sure whether to laugh or cry.
The hours were 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in order to accommodate residents throughout the day; all this did was spread out the citizenry. Instead of having power in numbers and a strong voice, the citizen population of the Edgewood area was diluted. The meeting was set up like a trade convention. You could move from exhibit to exhibit, which here again spread out the citizenry and kept its voice diluted. Not surprisingly, at each exhibit you could get different answers to the same questions.
All of the staff wore "name tags," but did not identify who they were actually with. Four of these folks, when asked if they lived in Harford County, responded "no." Maj. Gen. Richard Tragemann was even there, sitting in the very back of the room catching up on paperwork. "He is available for your questions," said one of the mystery name tags. Isn't it nice that he is showing his concern, giving up his Saturday, when he could be out at Ruggles?
When asking at the door if any Harford County officials were present, one of the name tags handed us a sheet of paper telling us to call the Department of Taxation and Assessment if we have any real estate questions. It is a real shame that our elected Harford County officials didn't feel the need to give up one of their Saturdays for the citizens of Edgewood. I will be sure to remember each and every one of them the next time they run for office.
What is the worst case scenario? If an explosion occurs and a toxic cloud of phosgene or mustard develops? What if the wind is blowing out of the south? Do the families in Constant Friendship, Abingdon, Glenangus and Todd Lakes, as well as the town of Bel Air, have anything to fear? How far can a toxic cloud drift before dissipating? Is it only the citizens of Edgewood who should be confused and angry? Only Edgewood citizens who worry about the largest financial investment of their lives, their homes and property?
"We want you to stay in your homes if there is an accident," answered one of the name-tagged officials. Will this make it easier to ID victims when they come around with body bags? How could these hundreds of homes and businesses have been approved for construction and occupancy? Someone had to know about these chemicals and nuclear missiles. We need some answers.
William L. LeRoy
In a time when our country and perhaps our local communities have taken on an "anti-incumbent" sentiment regarding politicians, my question to residents of Havre de Grace is simple: If things have gotten better, why change?
I have been a resident of Havre de Grace for more than 10 years, and I can see that the greatest change in the form of positive progress in our town has been accomplished since Mayor Gunther Hirsch has been in office. Others may claim responsibility for the town's improvements, but to discredit the value of the mayor's leadership as anything else than instrumental in this progress is merely self-serving.
When Mayor Hirsch took office, he made the job his full-time concern.
First, he brought in experienced and skilled professionals to help run our city government. He followed through on contracts that were wallowing in bureaucracy and red tape.
He had telephone lines removed from Pennington Avenue and (( railroad tracks removed from Juniata Street. Under his leadership, we have more paved streets, the upgraded city marina and waterfront access points, the fantastic Promenade, four attractive and safe playground areas for our kids and a business district that is looking better all the time. All these improvements are particularly significant in a town where many residents and tourists consider running, walking or strolling around town to be a favorite pastime.
As far as I am concerned, my view of Havre de Grace just keeps getting better and better. I know others in the neighboring towns of Aberdeen and Bel Air have noticed our improvements and see us as a nice place to visit.
My brother, who is from New York, visits me a couple of times a year. He remarked once that he would love to have a "vacation home." I told him that sounded like a great idea, and to include one for me in the wish. He asked why I needed one, because what could be better than living in a little town like this all summer?
My brother is right. Thanks, mayor, for strong leadership in the right direction. Keep up the good work. You have my vote.
Brad M. Cogan
Havre de Grace
Changes to remember in Havre de Grace:
Remember when you could almost lose your whole car in a pothole on one of the city alleys? And the main roads weren't much better?
Remember when it wasn't safe to walk through Concord Fields Apartments?
Remember when the city spent thousands of dollars on attorneys' fees?
Remember when the playground equipment at all the parks was ready for the junkyard?
Remember when there were hazardous telephone poles down the middle of Pennington Avenue and annoying railroad tracks centered on Juniata Street?
Remember when the Promenade was just a bunch of weeds?
Remember when the people attending City Council meetings had to wait outside because there wasn't enough room inside?
Remember when boats deeper than rafts ran aground in the marina?
I remember when all of the above was changed. Remember the changes as you vote to re-elect Gunther Hirsch mayor.
%Rev. Delores F. Richardson
Havre De Grace
The writer is a chaplain with the Havre de Grace Police Department.
Child Car Safety
I would like to extend thanks to all those who helped make Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week such a success. With the cooperation of the Highway Safety Committee, Maryland Department of Transportation, child care centers and nursery schools, Harford Mall, fire houses, local businesses and other individuals, the results are as follows:
* 52 child passenger safety seat inspections were done at Harford Mall the weekend of Feb. 18-19.
* More than 1,000 packets about child passenger safety were distributed to child care centers and nursery schools.
* Bel Air Police Department and the Sheriff's Department visited several elementary schools to conduct education and awareness efforts for parents who drive their kids to school.
* A "bounty" program was implemented for the first time in Harford County. Modeled after a program in Washington state, the purpose is to remove unsafe (more than 10 years old, involved in a crash or damaged) child seats off the re-use market. They will be destroyed. Also, to collect seats that are no longer needed but are in good condition for donation to loaner programs.
The "bounty" was completed by the donation of a McDonald's certificate, Chuck E. Cheese token or Super Fresh coupon in return for the seat. In addition, Harford Mall offered a "reward" of an instant Maryland Lottery ticket and Level Fire House offered a free smoke detector. Twenty seats have been collected so far. Donations will continue to be accepted by contacting Lee Ann Candon, 638-3150. . . .
Lee Ann Candon
The writer is coordinator, highway safety under the Harford County Department of Community Services.
Rec League Safety
It is fortunate that I am writing a letter this afternoon and am not sitting in a hospital emergency room, or worse yet, trying to make arrangements for my grandson's funeral. And it is only luck or God's grace that has made it so. He was very nearly hit by a car on the way to his older brother's first tee-ball practice.
I drove from Edgewood to Riverside this morning to meet my daughter and three grandchildren at the ball field next to the nursing home. I parked on the side of the road next to the field. My daughter, who lives on Caldwell Court North in Riverside, arrived with the kids a few moments later, and parked on the other side of the road. Since the parking lot is very small, both sides of the road were lined with parked vehicles for quite a distance.
I walked up to help her come across the road. My oldest grandson was standing beside the car, and my daughter was behind the car with the other two, putting the youngest into her stroller. Then I noticed that Kevin, her 3-year-old, started walking around her toward the road. I also noticed that a car was coming around the curve. Time suddenly started to go very slowly.
I was sure that Kevin had seen me and was coming across the road to me. The car was coming too fast for me to have any chance of running in front of it to save him, and I didn't think anyone else, especially the driver of the car, knew he was there. I started to run anyway, and yelled his name as loud as I could, just as his brother and mother also yelled. He turned and started to walk toward his brother just as the car went past. His mother grabbed him. The car had missed him by inches.
The first day of Belcamp tee-ball was almost a tragedy. Fortunately, it wasn't, but I want to ensure that something like this does not happen again. The car was not traveling over the speed limit; the posted speed is 40 mph. But it was going far too fast for the conditions, with so many parked cars and young children.
The driver was legally at fault, I suppose, but that would be little compensation had he injured or killed someone, especially our little Kevin.
At a minimum, I ask that the county immediately provide temporary reduced-speed signs on that road, perhaps the kind of portable signs that are used for road construction whenever the recreation field is being used.
I believe that it is also necessary to have people with crossing-guard signs (or some similar flag devices), trained to use them, stationed on the road beyond the points at which vehicles park.
They are needed to slow traffic and stop it when people are crossing the road, before and after practices and games. I wish ** to be the first to volunteer to do so, and offer my services in organizing and scheduling the parents and friends of the Belcamp players. My daughter will be the second volunteer.
And I strongly suggest that the county immediately conduct a survey of all areas used for parks and recreation activities to identify other hazardous situations caused by insufficient off-street parking. It won't be too difficult. Just ask the coaches and parents. They'll be able to tell you. I know that we can't afford to put in additional parking, but surely the cost of a few flags and some training sessions on traffic control won't put the program out of business. I'll sell another box of candy bars if I'm asked.