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Lansdowne activists criticize Ruppersberger for voiding lease


Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, known for his stream-of-consciousness speaking style is being criticized in Lansdowne for not saying enough.

The man who jokes about his inability to stop talking was blasted by a community group yesterday for using a two-paragraph letter to cancel the southwest county neighborhood's $1-a-year lease on a community center. A refund check for $1 was included.

Ruppersberger and his spokesman disputed the charge, calling the complaints sour grapes.

The letter, signed by Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly, returns control of the community center, a former library at 500 Third Ave., to the county Feb. 28. Ruppersberger wants to prepare the half-empty, renovated building to accept 45 day care children.

The 3- and 4-year-olds must move from the nearby St. Clement's Early Learning Center to correct a fire code violation in the school building, where the nonprofit center rents space.

But Lansdowne activists oppose the move. Yesterday, they and their county councilman complained about the way the executive has handled the dispute.

"Communications skills are lacking," the Rev. Steven P. Girard, pastor of St. Clement's Roman Catholic Church and president of the Southwest Leadership Team, said during the group's monthly board meeting. "They need to come in and discuss the issue with us."

Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Democrat who represents the area, reinforced Girard's statement after the meeting.

"On this we got blindsided," Moxley said.

Ruppersberger attributed the fuss to Girard.

"If he doesn't get his way, he gets excited," the executive said. "This is not an issue of lack of communications. You can't have everything you want."

Michael H. Davis, a spokesman for Ruppersberger, angrily disputed the community's charges of too little talk, while acknowledging that the lease cancellation could have been handled better.

However, he said, Moxley was kept informed throughout.

Davis said the community will receive several hundred thousand dollars in unused grant money from an earlier day care renovation proposal.

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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