Wal-Mart store failure of vision for Parole...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Wal-Mart store failure of vision for Parole Plaza

Another specter is haunting Anne Arundel: a monolithic Wal-Mart in Parole Plaza. It will be a failure of vision, a weakness of will, a monument to mediocrity.

Parole Plaza should become the Annapolis transport hub. It should be the place where the Orange Line from Washington, New Carrollton and Bowie meets the rail to Severna Park, Glen Burnie and Baltimore.

It should be the place where "ride-on" jitney buses converge to deposit and receive commuters from all parts of the greater Annapolis area.

A big box Wal-Mart as the center of the Parole Town Center really wins the planning booby prize. The Wal-Mart can go elsewhere, but the transport hub can't. And just because the hub can't be built for a while doesn't mean the land can't be preserved for it. Maybe state and federal transportation money can be obtained to buy the land.

The big question is simple: Does Anne Arundel have the will to set aside this land for an essential future purpose?

A town center should be envisioned chiefly as a transport hub. This is the way the Odenton Town Center is being set up. The Glen Burnie Town Center has gotten some urban renewal but, like Parole, has shown little evidence so far of becoming a hub.

These town centers are Anne Arundel's chief planning task in the next few years. Will the county be up to it? Or will it allow the rise of another, particularly conspicuous, monument to its policy of throwing in the towel and letting the predatory developers do pretty much whatever they want?

In late 1998, a distinguished local architect commented that "the planning culture in Anne Arundel is mediocre at best." Is it still?

James A. Hoage, Severna Park

County police officers showed true compassion

I would like to commend two Anne Arundel County police officers who were on duty the morning of June 16.

These two officers responded to a 911 emergency call involving my father, who suffered a fatal heart attack while on his morning walk.

The compassion and sensitivity of these two officers to my mother and sister when they delivered the bad news of my father's death was exemplary and deserving of recognition.

The state of Maryland and the county should be proud of these dignified officers. Thank you so much.

Henry Holthaus, Hauula, Hawaii

Shorter campaigns for true finance reform

Regarding the political debate over campaign financing reform, I would like to propose the following solutions:

Shorten campaigns from two years to three months. (This is still twice as long as campaigns in Great Britain, but we are a larger country.)

Provide free postal franking privilege to legitimate candidates so that voters can see their programs with real substance rather than rely on short television sound bites.

T.L. Terhune, Severna Park

Biodiesel fuel blend relieves dirty air

Since moving to Maryland, I have suffered from a variety of respiratory problems because of the poor air quality.

I would like to offer a solution that could be implemented tomorrow that would provide an immediate and significant improvement in air quality.

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service center in Beltsville, we have been conducting a demonstration project for 11 months on the use of biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum diesel.

This project uses B20 (a blend of 20 percent soybean-derived oil and 80 percent petroleum diesel) to fuel all 143 diesel engines on station, including a bus, tractors and an assortment of other equipment. B20 fuel can also be made from a number of other crop oils, as well as from animal fats and spent restaurant grease.

B20 has proved effective and complication-free. It reduces a number of gaseous emissions and particulate matter and does not require the purchase of new vehicles or any engine modification. It could be used in all diesel engines in Anne Arundel County tomorrow.

Replacing petroleum diesel with B20 will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16 percent. (Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming).

It will also reduce emissions of carbon monoxide by 20 percent, particulate matter by 22 percent, and sulfates by 20 percent.

These three pollutants pose health risks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

An informational meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 15 at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center for area transit agencies and others interested in learning more about the use of biodiesel. Interested parties can call 301-504-5193 for further information.

More information about biodiesel is also available on the Web at www.barc.usda.gov/fmod/energy/bdiesel.htm.

Phyllis E. Johnson, Severn

Marriage counseling veto unwarranted

I know I am writing to the wrong readership, since Anne Arundel County voted for Ellen Sauerbrey over Parris N. Glendening in the gubernatorial elections of 1994 and 1998.

But to show you just how out of touch Governor Glendening is with everyone, he recently vetoed a bill he called "vague" that required people planning to marry in a civil ceremony to take a pre-marriage counseling session.

The bill passed the state Senate unanimously, 46-0, and it passed the House of Delegates by 129-5.

I have seen recent figures that divorce rates are near 60 percent of all marriages.

The marriage license costs $55. In return, couples would get $8 if they took the counseling session from a list of providers of the service.

Now I ask, just what is wrong with requiring young people to spend a bit of time thinking about their future lives together and perhaps preparing them in advance for some obstacles they may meet along the way?

John Miara, Pasadena,

Taxes up, service down; it's government as usual

I am trying to understand the reality to any increase in Anne Arundel County property taxes while the coffers are overflowing with at least $40 million.

The administration says that the tax increase is only approximately $20 for the average homeowner.

But $20 to a poor family trying to make ends meet or to our senior citizens living on Social Security is the difference between a doctor's co-pay, a prescription being filled or enough gas to go to work.

Now the administration wants to double trash collection fees by reducing trash collection to only one day a week, doubling fees with half the service.

I understand the importance and need for recycling but don't hold us hostage with our hard-earned money.

The health hazards of trash uncollected in communities are obvious -- foul odors and attracting rats, roaches, flies and disease for our children and families.

A millennium plague is not needed.

The governor and his yessir cronies spent $1 billion in extra taxpayer money this year, plus charged an additional half-billion dollars in debt for our children to pay. That is not what I call future planning.

When administrative spending increases in record amounts while basic public service decreases at record amounts, there are serious problems.

I hope the citizens remember at the next election who raised the taxes to live in Anne Arundel County.

Maybe we will remember when we get that Christmas card from our parents forced to live in Florida.

Robert A. Costa, Shady Side

Middle East peace may blot Clinton legacy

A Palestinian-Israeli peace accord could well prove to be another negative blot on the president's legacy.

If, as has been suggested, Israel commits to giving back too much of the West Bank, thereby continuing to erode the buffer zone that affords protection from hostile neighbors, then the result could be an accord that precipitates the destruction of Israel.

That would be disastrous for Bill Clinton's legacy, and would make sex with an intern seem like a walk in the park.

Michael DeCicco, Severn

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