Letters to the editor

The Baltimore Sun

Mount Hebron group restates its purpose

Despite repeated efforts of clarification and correction by the Help Mount Hebron Committee to the Howard County public school system leadership and the Board of Education, our goal has been repeatedly misstated and misrepresented by both.

Consistently, questions from the Mount Hebron community in regard to the current condition of the building have been met with the response from system officials as "all they want is a new building." This false statement is then continually and inaccurately referenced in the press.

So, one more time for the record, Help Mount Hebron will again publicly state our purpose. We want a safe, code-compliant building where the educational programs, as provided for in HCPSS 1999 educational specifications, can be delivered effectively without compromise in a positive building environment.

Without this comprehensive approach, solutions will be incomplete. Problems and deficiencies will be swept under the rug for future government leaders to discover and resolve, and taxpayers to pay for. Not only will these unresolved issues have a negative impact on the education of students, the accumulated cost of a piecemeal approach will prove to be an ineffective use of our tax dollars.

Along with this goal, it has been Help Mount Hebron's continued request that a complete and proper cost analysis be prepared and provided for public viewing. To date, we have no idea what it will cost to eliminate all of the Mount Hebron High School's deficiencies noted in several HCPSS reports. Without this information, it is not possible to determine if remaining in the existing building is a financially wise and responsible decision or if a replacement school is a better expenditure of our tax dollars.

Help Mount Hebron's position is representative of our large community. At the Board of Education's capital budget hearing Thursday night, over 300 Mount Hebron supporters (including 45 teachers) echoed our message. Supporters filled every seat, lined the wall several deep, sat on the floor, packed the adjacent hallway and spilled over into a nearby room to watch the proceedings on television. They stood in support of and applauded the testimony of nine Mount Hebron staff members and 34 students, parents and community speakers.

The process we are all calling for is logical and reasonable. It will result in an equitable and safe learning environment and will provide for the wise and shrewd use of Howard County's tax dollars.

Bruce Anderson, Cindy Ardinger, Tony Culler, Linda Dombrowski, Elizabeth Haynes, Steve Lucchesi, Elizabeth Lucchesi, Nancy Smith and Deanna Trask

All of the above are Help Mount Hebron Committee members and represent the feeder schools' parents, as well as Mount Hebron parents.

Fighting tower only one of coalition's aims

I was pleased to find your coverage of the recent County Council hearing on height limit regulations ("Tower Fans, Critics Heard," Sept. 19) to be quite balanced. You did a credible job of presenting a sampling of the points each side made. As spokesman for the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown, I am proud of the respect and dignity exhibited by our supporters who spoke out at the hearing in support of those regulations. The contrast with the negativity of the opponents was striking.

I do have one correction to make. You describe the CCD as "a group trying to block the tower." While it is true that we do support our county executive in his pledge to do just that, we stand for much more. Addressing the proposed Plaza Tower high rise is just the immediate issue on the table. We see it as a first step in working on further development of our Town Center and believe that what happens in this issue will set the tone for the rest of the master planning process.

Oct. 15 will mark the first anniversary of the coalition's formation and the release of our position paper on downtown Columbia development. In this paper, we call for several major changes in downtown Columbia, such as sustainable development, human scale buildings, better connections among neighborhoods and, yes, even increased density. We believe that recent development in downtown has been poorly planned, resulting in congestion and inadequate parking in the mall movie area, decreased parking at our main library and approval of apartment buildings on land not zoned for that purpose. We will remain vigilant that this does not reoccur.

It is our intention to work closely with county government to help make development in our new town conform to the vision and values that have characterized Columbia since its inception.

Alan Klein Columbia

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