To many citizens of Dundalk and elsewhere, the real story centers around Baltimore County’s unprecedented action of attempting to sell parkland for commercial development. This proposal inherently contradicts the rationale for acquiring parkland and open space in the first place — that is to improve a community’s quality of life. How many more retail shops does Dundalk need when there are dozens of existing vacant storefronts? One only has to look a few hundred yards from the park to note five vacant storefronts existing at Merritt Park Shopping Center. How many more pharmacies are needed when CVS and Walgreens now do business within a block of the government center? Does our community really need another gas station or convenience store? How many more restaurants and eateries are needed when 15 such establishments already exist within a half mile of this park? Is any sane person in favor of increased traffic, pollution, congestion and potentially more accidents on Wise Avenue or Merritt Boulevard? The concept of commercial development of parkland and open space has been flawed from the outset. The proposed new names and new plans appear to many only as an attempt to “put lipstick on a pig.”
Most citizens carefully evaluate the quality of education and open space when deciding where to live with their families. Most elected officials value their eventual legacy and take pride in championing the preservation of our precious parkland and open space. Has anyone ever seen a campaign ad or literature in which a candidate or elected official is advocating for the sale of parkland? Yet, Baltimore County has been on a seven-year odyssey to do just that. Thanks to the wisdom and courage of Gov. Lary Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot, there is still hope that North Point Government Center Park can be preserved for our children and grandchildren. To be fair, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. inherited this issue from the prior administration and a previous tone-deaf County Council during a time when our community was represented by his father Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. It is the hope of many that Executive Olszewski will not only see this matter as simply an issue to be addressed, but more importantly, as an opportunity to work with Gov. Hogan, Comptroller Franchot and Councilman Crandell — and to make an unequivocal statement that some things are so precious that they are not for sale.
The Dundalk community does not have enough acres of parkland as determined by the state of Maryland. Once again, residents will raise their voices in opposition to the proposed precedent-setting sale of our North Point Government Center Park. Keep your promises to stand with the community Mr. Olszewski.