In a gesture that might ease strained relations between the state and Carroll County, Gov. Parris N. Glendening will visit the tiny town of Detour today to announce a $75,000 grant to help buy and clean up a junkyard, considered to be one of the worst environmental problems in the county.
Glendening and state Treasurer Richard M. Dixon are to tour the 3-acre site on the Carroll-Frederick County line at 3 p.m. They will be joined by the county commissioners and several Detour residents.
Lying in a flood plain where the Little and Big Pipe creeks join to form Double Pipe Creek, Detour has a history of problems during periods of heavy rainfall. Residents have been evacuated during major floods, such as in Tropical Storm Agnes in the 1970s and Hurricane Eloise in January 1996.
The community has long blamed Ray's Auto Parts for making its problems worse. The junk-yard site is upstream from the Route 77 bridge. Floating debris clogs the underpass of the bridge, causing water and junk to flood into town.
Glendening said the state will pay 75 percent of the cost of the property, or about $75,000, using flood management grant funds.
"The bottom line is that for a relatively small cost we can eliminate a very major environmental problem," Glendening said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I'm very pleased."
Local residents would like to see the property become a park or ball fields.
The announcement is welcome news for Carroll County Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who has been seeking funds to buy the property for three years. In June, Dell wrote a letter to Glendening, calling the junkyard "probably the worst environmental problem in Carroll County."
"I felt all along that the state would come through, but I did not know how much," Dell said yesterday. "I'm happy."
Dell said some county matching funds would be available, but he did not know how much. He also said he might seek additional funds to purchase an adjacent parcel on the banks of Double Pipe Creek. Dell said he was surprised the governor would visit the county on such a relatively small announcement.
The commissioners have been at odds with him on funding for bypasses of Hampstead and Manchester and most recently the rezoning of a South Carroll farm.
Glendening was opposed to the rezoning, saying it flies in the face of the state's Smart Growth, which preserves farmland and curbs suburban sprawl.
The governor acknowledged that he has "feuded" with Carroll County over environmental issues. But with Detour, the county and the state share the same view.
"I believe in [the] carrot-and-stick approach," said Glendening. "The stick is the Smart Growth program. If you're not consistent with the program, then we will not help you. The carrot is that if you are doing good things, we will help. This is a very good example of that."
Dell said he hoped today's visit might help make their relationship better. "It certainly can't harm it," Dell said.
For Michael Smith, who owns several rental properties in Detour and functions as the unincorporated town's unofficial mayor, the cleanup is an answer to many pleas for assistance.
"For 25 years, I've been working on this," said Smith, who will help lead the governor on a tour of the town. "It's just like my dream come true. I can rest and say I've finally done something."
Smith said he hopes the open space will be turned into a baseball field or park, and draw people from other parts of the county.
"We'd like to be known as something other than the place that floods," Smith said.
The governor also plans to visit New Windsor, where he is to tour with Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr.
Pub Date: 10/06/99