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Columbia's gate exists, fence or notThe August...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Columbia's gate exists, fence or not

The August 26 editorial, "Paradise has a gate," caught my eye because I have been the victim of a kind of exclusionary policy on the part of the Columbia Association.

Because we are not Columbia residents, nor members of the Columbia Association, my children are not eligible for swim team or swimming lessons at the Columbia neighborhood pool (Huntington). The reason we are not members of the Columbia Association is simple: We would not use the facilities enough to justify the cost.

Nevertheless, as far as we are concerned, the Huntington pool is part of our neighborhood. Although we live in Savage, my children attend school and socialize with many children from the Huntington and East Huntington neighborhoods. They are in Scouts with residents of Huntington and East Huntington. Several members of our church live in Huntington and East Huntington.

Persons who are not Columbia residents, but who are members of the Columbia Association, can be on the swim team at double the "resident/member" rate of $75. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that non-members would pay extra, even double. But it would also seem reasonable to me that non-resident, non-members would also be able to pay the $150. The reason that this is not so was explained to me in this way: Columbia residents pay a property assessment to the Columbia Association, part of which supports the member services including the athletic and recreation facilities and programs.

I inquired and was told by Keith Price, the CA assistant controller, that the assessment is 0.73 percent of half of the assessed value of the property. If my house is assessed for $150,000, then my annual payment to CA is $548. Then, 6.43 percent of that amount is allocated to support "member service." That's about $35.

In other words, a Columbia resident contributes $35 a year toward all the athletic and recreational programs, including the pools. What fraction of that $32 goes toward the pools? A quarter? A half? Let's say $17 a year for all the pools. So a Columbia resident does not pay a significant amount of money in their property assessment for the pools.

So if you are not a resident of Columbia, the only way you can get your kid into the swim team, which is as much a social as an athletic activity, is to pay big money -- not only the double rate for the team fee, but also $500 for the summer family pool plan. Columbia and its wealthier residents have separated themselves from the rest of the county to provide all the lavish recreational facilities that they can afford -- and are contemplating more -- leaving the rest of the county high and dry (figuratively and literally). If Columbia should join the rest of the county to contribute to more facilities available at reasonable cost to all residents, we would have a better quality of life here and less sense of division between people who are, in every other sense, neighbors.

Elizabeth A. Fixsen

Savage

Wine grapes good alternative crop

One item in the Aug. 17 article about promoting small crops in Howard was only briefly mentioned: Wine grapes are a very profitable commodity and one currently in great demand in Maryland by amateur winemakers and commercial wineries, who presently have to go out-of-state to meet their needs.

A ton of grapes can be produced in as little as a quarter-acre and bring in close to $2,000, depending on variety. It is an ideal crop for hobbyists, agriculture-minded persons with limited acreage and full-time farmers looking for adjunct or replacement crops. And judging from the increasing popularity of state wine festivals, the end product has a lot more appeal than bok choy.

Jack Johnston

Westminster

The writer is with the Maryland Grape Growers Association.

River Hill deplores hate crime

The River Hill Village Board strongly condemns the actions of the individual(s) who devaced the River Hill High School sign recently with a racial slur.

The village board intends to work with residents, community representatives and Howard County Police Department to insure that these acts of vandalism and those responsible for defacing any community property will be stopped by a combined community effort. The River Hill community is proud to be a part of Columbia's history of diversity and will continue to support efforts for educational opportunities which instruct rather than dictate, to join rather than divide and to work towards a sense of community that welcomes all.

We encourage and support the Howard County Police Department in its efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. As with the trespassing at the River Hill pool, there is no room in our community for actions such as these.

Sunny McGuinn

Clarksville

The writer is village manager with the River Hill Community Association, Inc.

Elkridge: official dumping ground

When it comes to putting a new industrial park, a recycling plant, a garbage disposal plant or a funeral home, there is no place like Elkridge. And now comes a debate over a proposed crematorium. How very kind it was of the Howard County Planning Board to accept the plan unanimously, thus completely disregarding the protest of Elkridge residents.

It seems that the enormous growth of residential areas in Elkridge is ignored. There are new developments on Ducketts Lane, Hunt Club Road, Hanover Road, Montgomery Road, Lawyers Hill Road, to mention a few. Residents of Elkridge deserve the same consideration that other Howard County neighborhoods receive when it comes putting more commercial establishments there.

Take a look at the traffic on U.S. 1, between Route 100 and Ducketts Lane. It is bad enough already, as anyone who has to get on U.S. 1 in the morning knows. When the new industrial park (Troy Hill) and the two exits to Route 100 are completed, this stretch of U.S. 1 will have four more traffic lights. One can only imagine what it will be like in the morning and evening rush hours.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Koerner

Elkridge

New superstores: Enough is more than enough

You're right on both marks ("Competition looms large for retailers," The Sun, Aug. 12): There is already far too much big shopping pressure on citizens, space and life in Ellicott City and Columbia, but there is more in the making.

On the 25th anniversary this month of its enclosed Columbia shopping mall, the Rouse Co. -- bereft of its once lauded urban ideal "to a human scale" -- will add two new wings and three more department stores to The Mall in Columbia.

Sonja Sanders, the mall's marketing manager, exults in the prospect that the Columbia Mall will become "one of the larger super-regional department stores in the Baltimore-Washington area." (Columbia Flier, Aug. 8). She ignores the competition of the still new Snowden Square mega-warehouse shopping center in East Columbia and about one mile from there, under construction, the Columbia Crossing mega-shopping center. Not to mention the nearby Ellicott City Long Gate under construction, with Wal-Mart coing to its own place a few miles away. Enough!

Environmental impact studies are required for some ventures before approval. Why not social, psychological and financial feasibility studies?

Richard Rodes

Columbia

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Let's take a look at Long Gate mega-shopping center on Montgomery Road. With the Target Store as anchor and a Safeway food store. The center is off to a super start. However, there is a Liquor World that wants to come into the center to sell beer and wine only. As a resident of Wheatfields (the development next door) and a liquor store owner in Catonsville, I offer the following comments:

First, the Howard County Council rammed thru the approval of Dorsey Search Wine and Spirits when All View Liquors is less than 400 yards away. Was this store needed? I don't think so.

Then, the County Council rammed thru the approval of the liquor store in the Enchanted Village Center. Was this store needed? I don't think so.

Now Liquor World wants to come in Long Gate between Triangle Liquors and Kellys Liquors on Montgomery Road. Is there a need? I don't think so. This store would have a negative impact on all of these stores, plus the stores in Baltimore County on Frederick Road and U.S. 40.

The County Council should read the law and have a basic understanding that the community can only support so many stores. The liquor stores I have mentioned are clean, well-run, community-oriented stores. Let's keep the community involved along with the merchants in the area. Also, Howard, unlike the surrounding counties, is the only one in which the council serves as the liquor board. Is there a conflict of interest here? I think so.

Roger C. McCammon

Catonsville

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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