The Baltimore County administration recently announced that it will be issuing an SFP—solicitation for proposals—that would sell the North Point Government Center and transfer the police station to where the Eastwood School is currently located, with proceeds from a sale being used to fund air conditioning in area schools.
There are also two other parcels in other parts of Baltimore County that would be sold. These include a fire station in Towson and a police sub-station in Randallstown.
While I have long been a supporter of additional funding for air conditioning in our schools, there are many questions that remain surrounding the proposal that need to be answered before any plan is finalized. Once these questions are answered, it is absolutely critical that community input must be sought and incorporated. Simply stated, the project should not be finalized before all questions are answered and citizens have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.
Indeed, the most important question is if and how impacted stakeholders and members of the community might have the opportunity to come together with county leaders to discuss, in an informed manner, the practical implications of these decisions. In weighing in on the issue, there are certainly economic development benefits (for example, jobs and additional tax revenue) that are worth considering as part of the sale of the center, and there are also many valid concerns that could be raised and should be addressed (increased traffic, for example).
Additionally, there are the questions about how and where programming will continue for the various activities currently housed at the government center: the Sky is the Limit Theatre, Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council activities, the Chorus of the Chesapeake, the Department of Natural Resources Service Station, the offices of elected officials, the 4th of July Fireworks, meeting
locations for community groups, and the Alliance.
Other questions include if Eastwood Elementary is being torn down or if the existing building would be used for a new police precinct, and what options are available for students currently enrolled in Eastwood.
Each of these questions deserves an answer before the public is asked to render its judgment on the overall proposal and before any final decisions are made.
In sum, it is important that the community be both informed about what is being proposed (having all of their questions answered), but also given a chance to actually participate in a dialogue about a project that may likely have a major impact upon the future of our area. I strongly believe that projects are better when people are able to voice their concerns, and offer their suggestions for improvement. This issue should be no exception.
Ultimately, if the administration deems an SFP to be acceptable, they must present it to the County Council for approval. Given that fact, I encourage all residents to ask questions that are important to them, become educated on this important issue, and voice their opinions (in support, in opposition, or to improve the project) to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Councilman John Olszewski, Sr.