Jul 28, 2014

Dundalk Residents Voice Opposition To Government Center Sale

One protester calls for the public to trade in their councilmembers for "better models" while a middle school student says the council will be labeled "meanies" for taking programs away from the community.

Adults came by the dozens to protest the proposed sale of the North Point Government Center but it was Micheala O'May, an eighth grade student, who stole the show.

Michaela, who attends Our Lady of Hope St. Luke School, was one of nearly a dozen speakers who attended the Baltimore County Council meeting Monday and ask the council to stop the sale of the center that houses, amongst other things, The Sky is the Limit community theater group, ball fields and the police precinct.

"It is my sincerest hope and prayers that you reconsider closing the Sky is the Limit here at the government center," said Michaela. "Please, let our show go on."

For the second time in a month, more than two dozen Dundalk residents came out to voice their opposition to the proposed sale of the North Point Government Center.

The property is one of three that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has proposed that the county sell to private developers.

Michaela said she first attended a show performed by the group at the age of 4 and "was magically transported over the rainbow to see the wizard."

The young actress credits the group with providing her with training that will allow her to attend Patapsco High and Center for the Arts theater magnet program in the fall.

The program at The Sky is the Limit has fostered a sense of community among those who attend, Michaela said.

"The people at Sky are like family," Michaela said. "They accept you for who you are and not judge you for your limitations. Everyone is welcomed here: Young, old, large, small, the physically and mentally challenged."

Juanita Bayer, another Dundalk resident, praised the theater group for its work with residents with special needs.

"There is no other program that would provide them the opportunity to be involved in a full-scale theatrical production," Bayer said before asking of any of the councilmembers would be willing to personally tell the actors "that their theater is being taken away."

"Perhaps it is time to have a sale of councilmen instead of the North Point  Government Center so we can get some better models because the one we have isn't working for us," Bayer said.

Patricia Ullrich also pleaded with the council to not sell the center and save the theater group. She read a letter written by her granddaughter, Alyssa Ullrich, that was hand-written on loose-leaf notebook. The 12-year old student signed her name, dotting the "I" with a heart.

Ullrich, 12, through her grandmother, pleaded for the property and said she was concerned for the loss of the annual fireworks display on July 4.

"I just don't think that it's fair that you take this all away and if you do, you're meanies," the 7th grade student at Our Lady of Hope St. Luke School wrote. "I am not that educated in all this stuff but whatever you want to take away, don't."

Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Democrat who represents the area, told the audience that nothing would change even if the property were sold.

"I will have to tell you that the show will go on," Olszewski said to Michaela O'May. "And Ms. Ullrich, you can tell your granddaughter she can rest peacefully because nothing is going to happen to the fireworks. They will go on like they have gone on every year.

"Nothing is going to happen to the programs. The programs will continue . I said before and I'll say it again this evening: if anything were to happen to the programs that they didn't continue, I would not support [the sale]," Olszewski said.

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