Michael McAuliffe, former president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association, is reprising his role in order to maintain the quality of his longtime neighborhood.
McAuliffe, who spent three years as president of the 160-household organization before stepping down in 2012, moved back into his former role at the beginning of 2018 after Carol Mox decided to step down after five years.
The new president’s goal, this time around, will be to “maintain what we have.”
“It’s an older neighborhood that has really sustained and survived,” McAuliffe said, saying that he hopes to preserve the character of the neighborhood of largely single family homes and keep it “looking nice.”
Other than maintenance, McAuliffe is keeping an eye on the sale of the 70-acre Good Shepherd Services property, which went on the market last summer after the residential treatment center closed. A buyer has not yet been announced.
If a developer builds on the land, McAuliffe said, it will be “the biggest change to Halethorpe, I think, ever.”
“It’s going to impact Halethorpe in an enormous way,” McAuliffe said. “I’m not sure how to handle it yet, other than to connect with the developer and see if we can have influence.”
Five years ago, McAuliffe said he resigned from the position because he got “burned out.” McAuliffe works as an electronic technician for the MTA.
“My fingers are much more accustomed to dirt than tapping on a keyboard,” he wrote in the association’s January newsletter, “so please offer me some of your patience while I try to get better at the administrative end of things.”
Sandy Cullen, the association’s treasurer and another former president, praised McAuliffe’s leadership and dedication to the community.
“He has a keen sense of the role of leadership,” Cullen said. “He has very good organizational skills. He is tremendously dedicated to land use, sustainability and beautification, and he devotes countless hours to those endeavors.”
Before becoming president, McAuliffe was the organization’s vice president. He was the only person to submit his name for the president’s position at the end of last year.
The 30-year resident of Halethorpe has been involved in the community association for two decades, during which, he said, he has not missed a meeting.
McAuliffe’s wife, Maria, a board member of the organization, “likes it here a lot, and she won’t move,” he said.
“So I said, ‘If you don’t want to move, I’m just going to have to get involved with the neighborhood,’” McAuliffe said. “Because we can’t live in a neighborhood that’s deteriorating.”
McAuliffe’s primary goal is to keep Halethorpe from mimicking similar neighborhoods that he said have “gone downhill” in recent years.
“My guess is that with neighborhoods that do deteriorate, there was a sense of apathy, a lack of activism,” he said.
But getting involved works, McAuliffe said.
“You do see the improvements when you put the effort into it,” he said.