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Teens need help dealing with griefDuring the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Teens need help dealing with grief

During the grief forum at Wilde Lake High School ("Teens discuss grief issues," May 7), I listened to the teens on the panel describe their difficulties in obtaining support from school personnel as they grieved the death of someone close to them. Many of the students on the panel perceived that the schools' resources were either inadequate or not well publicized, and expressed frustration.

As a grief counselor, I know how important this kind of support is to anyone who is experiencing the helplessness, sadness, anger and guilt, which can be so intense in grieving the loss of someone special. Janet Will, a member of the county schools crisis team and adult panelist, commented on the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of grief. A teen can hardly concentrate on school work while in the throes of grief.

Some questions which came to mind:

1. What is feasible for a school to provide when a death occurs, be it student, parent or sibling? In schools with willing, empathetic counselors and teachers, how can they best communicate their availability to the student body?

2. What are the resources in the community? A few were mentioned by the panel and the audience: Hospice of Howard County, youth ministers, Jeffreys Foundation, professionals, and particularly, parents. What else is out there?

3. Knowing that students wrestle with issues of grief long after schools can realistically provide support, how can connections be made between grieving teens and community resources?

4. As Alice Baij from hospice shared, "Grief is a normal process." For years hospice has used trained volunteers, in addition to professionals to provide grief support. Can we as a community explore how a greater number of citizens can receive grief training and provide that listening presence to those who are dearest to them at times of loss? Hopefully we can continue the dialogue.

Mary Kelly Perschy

Laurel

The writer is author "Helping Teens Work Through Grief."

Quality-of-life issues in YMCA, Lowe's debate

Some towns may be screaming for a new YMCA facility like the one proposed by the Howard County YMCA Board ... and other communities may be lining up just for the sake of opposing anything new ... but being a resident of Autumn Oaks, an 8-year-old, 109- home neighborhood located in back of the Route 103 YMCA, I can assure you that there are legitimate reasons behind the opposition by our residents to this project.

First, I'd like to ask the YMCA Board how many of their members actually live within two miles of the YMCA facility? My guess would be few, other than Mr. Bobotek, the board lawyer who is actually aware of the current traffic problems that surrounding residents endure.

Next, I'd like to ask the board if they are concerned, even in a small way, about the current YMCA members like our family, who are among the "resident opposition"? Perhaps they are so confident about the appeal of this new, state-of-the-art facility that they don't mind losing the bulk of their current members who live in the immediate area as they plow through with this deal, ignoring the needs of their current members/customers! Perhaps they are unaware of the many excellent fitness gyms and outdoor pools within minutes of their location that cost the same or even less than the annual fees they will likely propose for the new YMCA?

Lastly, I'd like to ask each and every board member how they'd feel if, for the last few years, they've ever had to 1) Get off Route 100 an exit before their neighborhood and take two-lane back roads just to avoid 1/4 -mile back-ups on Route 100 to turn onto Long Gate Parkway? 2) Enter their own development using circuitous routes like Stone Crest Drive, to avoid excessive congestion (weekdays and weekends) at the Route 103 and Old Columbia Pike intersection? 3) Wait for at least five minutes to exit from the Long Gate Shopping Center onto Route 103 due to excessive traffic backed up on 103 at other lights?

These are just a few of the very real traffic problems that residents of Autumn Oaks and other adjacent neighborhoods have had to endure since Long Gate was built. And I'm not saying that we don't reap the benefits of this nearby shopping center; I for one rarely shop anywhere else and very much enjoy having a Safeway, a Target and a Kohls a mile from my house. What I'm saying is that the three lanes alluded to in the May 13 Sun article are sorely needed now; and if a Lowe's was built, we'd probably have to replace 103 with another limited access Route 100 type highway parallel to the existing Route 100, just to accommodate the additional volume of cars all this development would entice to the area.

Yes folks, we are all for development, and yes, even in our neighborhood, and yes, even for a new, state-of-the-art YMCA, but not at the expense of our quality of life, home values and our peace of mind.

L. Kendrick

Ellicott City

Don't put a Lowe's in a residential area

As a Howard County resident for almost 25 years and a YMCA member for over 10 years, many of the comments in your paper from YMCA representatives require a response ("YMCA heads speak out for Lowe's deal," May 13).

Previous YMCA board member Mr. Steven Adler's suggestion that "if you can stand there [on YMCA property] and look across at Long Gate and not feel it's a commercial area, you need to have your head examined" clearly reflects on the quality and amount of research completed by the YMCA. I would like to suggest that Mr. Adler complete his gaze by turning a complete 360 degrees and then ask himself what he sees on the other three sides of the YMCA property? What businesses are being run from all the homes and neighborhoods around the YMCA and shopping center? Now, perhaps he will be able to see the "big picture" that he implied the community members are not able to see.

It is humorous that the YMCA board admits that the Lowe's was the only firm offer it received. Are we to believe the YMCA even solicited alternatives to a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse when they confess that they failed to gain support from Bethel Baptist and local community groups before signing a contract with a developer? YMCA board chairman Mr. Bruce Hollander suggests that it is the communities' responsibility to prove that another viable alternative exists. Is he implying that the YMCA has no responsibility to work with the community for a suitable solution beyond that which knocks on its door? Is the community required to accept whatever proposal the YMCA deems financially viable regardless of the impact to the surrounding neighborhoods and community? The YMCA is being myopic with this perspective.

Interestingly, local community leaders have indeed identified a potential alternative that could satisfy community objections and the needs of both Bethel Baptist and the YMCA. Of course any new alternative will take time to review. While I can appreciate the desire for the YMCA to move quickly in order to hold on to millions of dollars offered by a developer and more than a million dollars earmarked by the state, the difficult timeline is of the YMCA's own making. As a YMCA member, I am willing to balance the benefits of an improved facility with the overall benefit of keeping residential zoning from being changed to commercial zoning.

At this point the difference between the YMCA board and the community seems simple to discern. The community wants a win-win win scenario for the YMCA, Bethel Baptist, and the local community. The YMCA simply wants its way!

Craig H. Crandall

Ellicott City

Lowe's will be good for the community

The property between the YMCA and Old Columbia Pike has become the latest victim of the population growth in Howard County. For communities along the Montgomery Road corridor, this growth means heavy traffic, noise and congestion. However, for owners of the property across the street from Long Gate shopping center it means the sad loss of a once happy and peaceful existence.

The new communities neighboring the Long Gate shopping center are concerned about the plans to build a Lowe's home improvement store across the street from the shopping center. Residents feel that the construction of Lowe's will diminish their quality of life. They cite heavy traffic, noise and safety as reasons why the store should not be built. The residents feel that the owners of the property slated to be sold to Lowe's should find other alternatives for the property. However, the owners of the property and adjoining businesses find the construction of the Lowe's store a perfectly suitable alternative.

My now-deceased grandmother raised 10 children, most of whom were raised on a beautiful and peaceful farm that now affords splendid views of the back of McDonald's and Outback Restaurant. The children once enjoyed life surrounded by undeveloped land on a near-deserted road. As one of many grandchildren, I vividly recall walking across the street to a snowball stand, which is now Barnes & Noble. We would spend every Wednesday frolicking and playing. It was a treat to walk to the Royal Farm Store for sodas and goodies.

Over the past fifteen years, we have watched and painfully endured the decline of this peaceful existence. We can remember the increased traffic, noise and congestion when the neighboring communities were built. Farms quickly became houses. It wasn't long before it became unsafe to cross the street to go to the snowball stand or walk to the store. All of the original owners of the homes on this stretch of Montgomery Road have suffered through several road widenings to the point of being only a few feet from traffic and vibrations from trucks strong enough to crack the plaster in the walls.

This rapid increase of population delivered its final blow with the construction of the Long Gate shopping center, which includes several restaurants and an open-all-night gas station. Along with the shopping center came the trash, traffic and congestion. Life as we knew it was finally over.

It is incomprehensible to consider that the property would now have any value other than for commercial use. Selling this property is not easy, but it must be done. The homeowners have lost so many happy memories and are not pleased to watch their heritage turn in to a Lowe's store anymore than anyone else. However, for these homeowners, the community and the neighboring businesses, Lowe's is the most lucrative and suitable alternative. Lowe's plans to improve the traffic flow. Lowe's will create jobs. Lowe's will bring money into Howard County. The church, the YMCA and residents will all benefit. The construction of this store is not the problem surrounding this controversy. The problem of heavy traffic, noise and safety already exists and has existed for quite some time. All that one needs to do is look around, this area is surrounded by major highways and hundreds of communities. Congestion is inevitable.

The new communities don't want to lose their little piece of paradise, but it must be remembered that the owners of the property that now is at the heart of controversy are the ones who really lost their paradise. Put aside the selfishness and walk in the shoes of the owners of the property. The new communities can't handle having a Lowe's store up the street, imagine living right across the street from business establishments that are open 24 hours per day. In addition, just as the new communities have benefited from Long Gate shopping center, I am certain that they will from the Lowe's store along with the rest of the county. Just like so many beautiful, tranquil places around the county, another beautiful memory has been lost. Let's face it, the characteristic of this once peaceful neighborhood has changed, be it for better or worse. This is a new decade, and as much as we protest, petition and complain, progress will ultimately win.

Sherry Collins

Baltimore

Lowe's won't hurt a developed area

I am a concerned citizen who lives on the north side of Montgomery Road directly across from the Long Gate shopping center. This is the proposed site for the new Lowe's. The noise, traffic, pollution and early hour deliveries by tractor-trailer trucks already affect the residents on this property. I am sure the residents of Wheatfield do not hear the dumpsters being emptied at 3 a.m. or the tractor-trailers making deliveries at all hours of the night. If they did, there would be another march.

There have been several meetings held at churches, VFW and YMCA when all of the residents of the developments in the area could discuss their concerns about the Lowe's store. There have been comments about the houses along the area where I live, and they have not been very favorable. Comments were that the residents had all died off, were in nursing homes, the houses should be condemned and a school be built here. I would like to say that the residents along this area are very much alive, and I hope are a long way from a nursing home. There are two residents who are in nursing homes. Most of us have lived here a lifetime.

Concerns of the residents in this area should not be the new Lowe's coming but all the building of new houses in this area. New developments on Columbia Pike going into Ellicott City, houses being built on College Avenue ... Montgomery Road area toward Route 1, the farm being developed behind Wheatfield on the other side of Route 100 are just a few in this vicinity. What is this going to do to the traffic, water supply, electric, schools and road system?

The Lowe's store is not going to adversely affect this area any more than it already has been. The new YMCA, the safety issue for the Baptist Church to exit from the parking lot, the new lane from Long Gate Parkway down to Columbia Pike, the elimination of all driveways from the same area are all reasons for this project to go forward. The north side of Montgomery Road across from the Long Gate shopping center is no longer a residential area.

Ralph S. Bathgate

Ellicott City

Problem isn't Lowe's but congestion

This letter is being written in response to all of the well-meant but improbable suggestions being rendered by those opposed to the construction of a Lowe's home improvement store an Montgomery Road.

I grew up living in one of the homes on Montgomery Road where the Lowe's is being proposed. In addition, and contrary to popular belief, all of the owners of these homes are not dead and the homes are in completely livable condition, not ready to be condemned. The owners of these properties continue to suffer through the very noise and congestion that is being so vehemently opposed. It is obvious to me that this area is far from rural. In fact, this area is now completely surrounded by major highways, i.e., Route 175, Route 108, Route 29, Route 40, and most importantly Route 100. Did the opposition not notice this upon the purchase of these new homes? As far as I can see, the construction of Lowe's only stands to improve this already existing mess by improving the current flow of traffic.

Some recent suggestions from the opposition has been build a park, build a school, or perhaps, just let the occupants remain and plant trees in front of their homes. If putting in a park sounds like a good idea, ask some people who live around Centennial Park about it. On any given day Centennial Park draws as much traffic as any Lowe's parking lot that I have ever seen. Secondly, the idea of a school, how do you think the school buses will get the children to school on time? Route 70 to Southbound Route 29 is certainly not an option, neither is Route 100 Westbound. More importantly where would the children play? The school would need to be entirely too close to the road and, as a parent, I know children will wander. The best, and my favorite, was the suggestion of building a tree sound buffer for the existing occupants. OK, problem solved, Wheatfield, Brampton, Stonecrest and all of the others, plant trees.

Please wake up and recognize that your problem is not with Lowe's and that the people that you continue to put in the middle need to move out. They are and have been forced to remain in a undesirable situation, and they deserve better. They are the original Howard County residents and they should not be continually ignored, as they were when Long Gate shopping center was built.

Peggy Frazer

Catonsville

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