Education, traffic, crime top residents' concerns


Baltimore area residents listed education, traffic congestion, and crime and drugs as three of their major concerns for the future, according to an overview of a survey conducted as a part of a 30-year plan for the Baltimore region.

Details of the survey, along with 15 preliminary "vision statements" for the future of the Baltimore region, will be discussed at a public workshop tomorrow night as a part of Vision 2030, a cooperative effort between the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

Vision 2030 aims to develop a regional plan for the city and surrounding areas. Public participation has played a key role in the process, which has taken 18 months.

"One of the major driving forces was so that we could reach out to the communities and they could tell officials where they wanted to be years from now," said Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Coordinators of Vision 2030 spent last spring conducting 17 public meetings asking residents in Annapolis, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties where they would like the region to be 30 years from now.

Vision 2030's 39-member oversight committee consolidated the results from the meetings into a report. Participants at tomorrow's workshop will be invited to review an initial draft. This will be the last formal opportunity for the public to weigh in on the plan before it is made final and presented to elected officials in January.

"These are some of the themes that have been created, this is what we've heard from you, this is how we put it together -- give us your thoughts," said Donald Fry, chairman of the oversight committee and executive vice president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Fry emphasized that the statements outlined in the Vision 2030 document are guidelines for elected officials. "What specific solutions they pursue is not our decision to make," he said. "This gives the officials an idea of what people want."

The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Western High School in Baltimore.

In one part of Vision 2030's survey, which was conducted by telephone in June, 1,200 area residents noted crime and traffic concerns more often that people do in similar national polls.

Twenty-two percent ranked crime and drugs as having the most significant impact in their lives, compared with 7 percent in a similar national survey. On traffic and transportation issues, the tally was 12 percent in Baltimore, compared with 5 percent nationally.

The initial meetings in the spring attracted only handfuls of people, but more than 500 residents attended the later 17 public gatherings, Fry said.

Vision 2030 encompasses six main areas: economic development, education, environment, government and public policy, livable communities and transportation.

All 15 of the vision statements in the report fall within one of these six categories. More than 80 different strategies for implementing the goals are included.

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