Olszewski’s fondness for public parks has been missing in Dundalk | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 15, 2021 at 1:47 PM
I read Taylor DeVille’s recent article, “Baltimore County’s first park in six years will convert Sparrows Point brownfield into 15-acre green space” (April 6), with interest and mixed emotions. The Edgemere-Sparrows Point community, like many communities in Council District 7, needs additional open space and athletic facilities. There is certainly cause for excitement. Admittedly, my excitement is somewhat tempered by the possible environmental concerns cited in the article. Hopefully, Baltimore County will be totally transparent in sharing with the community all information that is necessary to assure the public that when children go to this potential park to play that they are not “playing with their lives.”
While I found the article to be informative and thought provoking, I could not help but wonder if perhaps it was a bit premature. As the article notes that “Tradepoint Atlantic is required by the state to complete a risk assessment to evaluate levels of contamination to the intended land use before the park becomes a reality.” Hopefully, this is not a case of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. taking a “shoot-ready-aim” approach to secure a headline as he embarks on his next campaign.
What I find ironic about Mr. Olszewski taking a victory lap in regard to a possible park are his totally contradictory actions in regard to a park that has been in existence and serving a densely populated community for about 60 years — North Point Government Center Park in Dundalk. For the better part of 10 years, our community has been fighting to protect this vital asset from commercial redevelopment. Had it not been for the wisdom and insight of Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot, who have paused commercial redevelopment, we may well be dealing with more unwanted businesses, gas stations and increased traffic.
Our community didn’t ask for this development but only that we be able to continue to retain our open space. Our biggest adversaries in our fight to retain our community’s 60-plus-year asset have been our county government, our county executive and former Councilman John Olszewski Sr. While some may find the younger Mr. Olszewski’s “evolving” philosophy about the importance of community open space somewhat ironic, others have a less charitable view about his motives.
With the above having been said, I sincerely hope that the Edgemere-Sparrows Point community gets its much-needed clean open space and that it doesn’t have to later fight with our county executive to retain it.
Bob Staab, Dundalk
The writer is a former director of the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.