The Norwood Holabird Community Association's Monday meeting at the North Point precinct dealt with a variety of topics, including Merritt Park Shopping Center renovation plans, code enforcement, the rat problem, a community-needs assessment and some political news.
The meeting drew concerned citizens from across the Dundalk community, packing the meeting room and overflowing into the hallway.
The two guest speakers were Lionel Van Dommelen, chief code enforcement officer for Baltimore County, and Peter Grose, vice president of Regional Management, Inc., the firm that took over the reigns of management for the Merritt Park Shopping Center in September. Del. Sonny Minnick, who represents the 6th District in Annapolis, also presented a special report.
NHCA President John Ayres called the meeting to order and NHCA Treasurer Terry Godwin lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ayres read a brief opening statement that focused on the topic of, “A community of hope, promise and determination.” Godwin echoed those remarks and implored those in attendance to get involved and become an active member of their communities.
Notables in attendance included local developer John Vontran, Linda Gossman, president of the Gray Manor/Northshire Community Association, Fred Theiss, legislative aide to Sen. Norman Stone, and political hopeful Eric Washington.
Van Dommelen was the first guest speaker. He spoke of his 50 years growing up and living in Dundalk. He also alluded to family members and their ties to the Dundalk area.
“My goal is to clean up Dundalk,” Dommelen said, straightforwardly. He stated that the county has budgeted another $150,000 for rat eradication program and lamented that one of the most effective rat control concepts simply requires the citizens of Dundalk follow the law and place their trash in covered cans, thereby cutting off the food source for the rats. He stressed education, enforcement and eradication.
Another interesting fact that is occurring in the area is a rise in the number of cat colonies. Again, Dommelen spoke of eliminating the food source for these rogue cats.
In addition to the rat and cat issues, he also addressed other issues, including one that involved a hoarder in Dundalk that took seven men from the county and two full days to clean up. Among the items, included $100,000 worth of Lionel trains still packed in boxes. In addition to the items horded in the house, there were antique autos parked abandoned on the street.
Dommelen also promised a code response on complaints within two days. As the writer of this blog, I can personally attest to that promise. I have called code enforcement several times and they responded quickly and effectively.
The next speaker was Peter Grose, who spoke of the Merritt Park Shopping Center owners, MP 63 LLC, and their commitment to renovate the entire shopping center and breed new life into the Dundalk community.
“We are actively seeking a supermarket chain to serve as an anchor for the shopping center," Grose said. He sounded forthright in his assessment that this is a slow go, but they are committed to accomplishing their goal.
Del. Sonny Minnick gave an update on the upcoming business in Annapolis. Sonny wanted the audience to know he was a Blue Dog (conservative) Democratic and that he would not support any increase in the gas tax. “There is a rumor that the governor might attempt to introduce a gas tax,” Sonny said. “We would prefer that any proposed increase in such a tax be held off until the full session in order to give it a proper review.”