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North Point Government Center project should be held to a high standard

North Point Government Center Park in Dundalk is currently scheduled to be redeveloped.
North Point Government Center Park in Dundalk is currently scheduled to be redeveloped. (Hairston,Kim / Baltimore Sun)

In the article, “Olszewski encourage talks” (Oct. 14), Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. contends it would take tens of million of dollars to renovate or repair the existing facilities at North Point Government Center Park in Dundalk. This bold assertion raises several questions. Has Baltimore County ever commissioned an impartial expert to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the existing facility as has been requested by the community? North Point’s historic brick building is one of the oldest public structures in the area. It was constructed to serve the needs of a booming school population during the post-World War II years when Bethlehem Steel was king.

Before the site became a government hub it was home to the North Point Junior High School. After the school’s doors closed for good, the Dundalk Chorus of the Chesapeake scrapped, scrubbed and washed down the performance hall so recreation programs could have a home. Volunteer program leaders made over other parts of the building so kids had a place to play. Has any consideration been given to conducting a robust community meeting to determine what else the residents would like to see at this site? The arts, local history and environmental possibilities are unlimited.

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What money is currently budgeted for North Point? What (if any) effort has been made to engage our state government in assisting with such a worthwhile project? What effort has been made to research grant potential? Has consideration been given to completing a state-of-the-art community facility in phases as has been the case with many capital projects?

A developer has submitted a new plan for the controversial redevelopment of North Point Government Center in Dundalk. A previous plan was blocked by Gov. Larry Hogan after residents worried they'd lose ball fields and a rec center. The new plan would bring Johns Hopkins and medical offices.
A developer has submitted a new plan for the controversial redevelopment of North Point Government Center in Dundalk. A previous plan was blocked by Gov. Larry Hogan after residents worried they'd lose ball fields and a rec center. The new plan would bring Johns Hopkins and medical offices. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

The county executive often refers to his intent to make Baltimore County better. We would argue why not the best for our community? As Robert Kennedy once stated “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Why not the best for Dundalk, Mr. Olszewski?

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The county executive mentioned a significant risk of litigation if it backed out of the proposed contract. It is important to note that local citizens advised the county of the requirement of prior Board of Public Works approval for the proposed contract and requested they to delay voting until approval was granted. An arrogant County Council railroaded the vote through in December 2013, without consulting the board. To add insult to injury, in November 2014, the same arrogant and lame duck County Council (over the objections of incoming Councilman Todd K. Crandell) amended the original contract and railroaded it through without board approval.

Litigation is always possible and sometimes necessary. By ignoring the legal requirement and putting the cart before the horse, the county and the proposed developer decided to roll the dice and take the Board of Public Works for granted. Does the saying, “Live by the sword, die by the sword,” come to mind? While there are no guarantees as to who would win any legal dispute, most citizens would respect and appreciate any elected official who “fights the good fight."

Few things are more important than preserving our environment and open space for future generations. Wouldn’t that be a great legacy for any elected official? Some things are priceless!

Ronald Schaeffer, Dundalk

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