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Over-building in Liberty Rd. corridorReporter Larry Carson's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Over-building in Liberty Rd. corridor

Reporter Larry Carson's story on July 3 about school overcrowding and development in Baltimore County refers to the Hebbville School in my community.

It is asserted that the Hebbville School is 40 percent over-crowded and that only 12 housing units have been proposed nearby.

There are two developments that Baltimore County has authorized near the school that will contain more than 200 units. I believe that less than 10 units have been built and sold to date.

The over-crowding of the school might be attributed to the large number of tenants in the nearby apartments who are receiving Section 8 housing subsidies. The occupants of the apartments tend to have more young children than the occupants of the surrounding homes.

It would seem to be a situation where the higher population density of the apartments is overwhelming the school, whose capacity has not been increased since it was built to serve a community of small homes.

If the developments are ever completed, the school capacity will be totally inadequate.

The over-development of the area has recently resulted in two deaths due to fire, as we apparently lack sufficient water for fire protection. Basements are flooded in heavy rains due to insufficient storm water runoff capacity.

Some home-owners complain of overflowing toilets, as the community has inadequate sewers. The traffic intersection at Liberty Road and Washington Avenue has one of the highest traffic densities in Baltimore County and is frequently at gridlock.

The development moratorium has come too late to solve the community's problem of an inadequate public works infrastructure.

Any further development will only make the county's fiscal problems worse, as the occupants of new housing will require more services than they will support in taxes.

For example, a family with two children will get $12,000 of education (Baltimore County spends about $6,000 per student annually) while paying about $1,100 in real estate taxes. The rest of the taxpayers make up the difference.

Piecemeal development decisions do not allow the county to look at the big picture and prepare a rational plan that can logically integrate taxes and adequate public services with fiscal responsibility and the quality of life.

Jerome Goodman

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Rockdale Civic and Improvement Association.

Court rulings

Now that the Supreme Court is becoming increasingly conservative, will it somehow cripple or even abolish Social Security?

Don't laugh. Either could happen.

And for eye-openers, review decisions handed down by the court during this century.

Emil Antos

Dundalk

Play can be safe

I read your June 24 report of the tragic death of Teresa Dawn Ackerman, a 13-year-old girl who was killed when an unanchored extension to a wooden swing set on which she was climbing toppled and struck the side of her head.

In his grief, Teresa's stepfather called the death "a fluke, a tragic accident.'

Playground injuries are not freak accidents. They are predictable events that can be prevented and controlled.

Each year in the United States, an average of 200,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries, and at least 17 children die from their injuries.

Three-quarters of the injuries that occur on playgrounds are due to falls -- primarily falls to the surface below the equipment. One-third of the fatalities are due to falls.

But death on the playground also results from strangulation and impact with moving equipment. Equipment failures, can, as in Teresa's case, cause equipment to tip over.

Voluntary safety guidelines provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in its Handbook for Public Playground Safety, and by the American Society for Testing and Materials, in its standards for public and home playgrounds, recommend ways to provide a safe playground environment.

Purchasing safe playground equipment and surfacing, installing them according to manufacturer's instructions and in compliance with the CPSC and ASTM guidelines, and maintaining the equipment and surfacing are elements of a comprehensive playground safety program that can prevent playground injury and death.

Playground owners and operators must check their equipment for compliance with the CPSC and ASTM guidelines and devise a comprehensive safety plan.

State and local legislators and regulators should also consider mandating compliance with the CPSC and ASTM recommendations for day care, school and public playgrounds.

Susan DeFrancesco

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Injury Prevention Works, a non-profit organization that serves as a nationwide clearinghouse for playground safety information.

Pulling EPA's plug

According to Sen. Bob Dole, the time is now ripe to remove all the food and drug control regulations in order to give the food processors the same freedom to poison the American people's digestive systems as their fellow greedies in the air and water pollution business have to damage the lungs and tissues of the American public by destroying the Environmental Protection Agency and its controls and regulations over air, water and ground pollutants.

The EPA destruction legislation, better known as H.R. 961, would virtually eliminate any assurance of water purity since polluters could dump their toxic wastes anywhere with impunity and without surveillance.

H.R. 961 was proposed by Republican Congressman Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania, who was ably assisted by highly paid lobbyists representing big time polluters.

There are many Republicans who might object to getting themselves poisoned by the same foul air that everyone else has to breathe.

They may also take considerable offense at the idea of favoring special corporate interests at the expense of their good health, to say nothing of the well being of their wives and kids.

What happens when somebody's mother develops cancer five or 10 years down the road because of air or water pollution? This has happened in Cancer Alley in Louisiana near chemical plants and oil refineries.

How do you apply cost/benefit analysis to the development of cancer, as some Republican congressmen have recently proposed? They say figures don't lie, but liars do figure.

Even corporate executives must breathe air, drink water and eat foods that, they hope, are clean, potable and not contaminated. Will these people carry around air bottles, have separate water piping and private and separate food supplies?

What it comes down to is that certain ignorant, greedy and over-ambitious politicians connive with unscrupulous corporate interests in trying to bend Mother Nature to their will, and it cannot be done. The real endangered species could be mankind.

Ernest M. Stolberg

Baltimore

Not King's dream

"I have a dream," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1963, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

This ideal seems to have been abandoned by both sides in discussing the recent Supreme Court decision limiting states' rights to draw up race-based districts.

In predicting the imminent decline of minority members in Congress caused by fewer minority districts, liberals seem to have forgotten that Americans can be intelligent enough to elect leaders based on their ideas and abilities, not their appearance.

Encouraging more open-minded voters, not more minority districts, should be the goal of civil rights leaders. How ironic it would be if they, of all people, abandoned King's dream.

Joelle Novey

Baltimore

Missed opportunity

City Democrats are faced with a choice between hemlock (Kurt L. Schmoke) and cyanide (Mary Pat Clarke). The Republicans have missed a wonderful opportunity.

Forgetting Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin and the Republican heritage of thousands of older black voters, the GOP could not even persuade a decent old warhorse like Sam Culotta to show the flag this year.

Do the Ellen Sauerbrey die-hards even know blacks were once the backbone of the Republican vote in Baltimore, and they're not all dead?

Imagine the consternation in the Clarke and Schmoke camps if a Dr. Levi Watkins or a Dr. Ben Carson decided he was a Republican and wanted to be mayor.

Hal Riedl

Baltimore

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