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County Turns Back on Dundalk Heritage Trail

The author, Maryland state delegate John Olszewski, Jr., strongly disagrees with Baltimore County's decision to abandon the Dundalk Heritage Trail project.

It is no secret that all levels of government have been struggling to find a way to pay the ever-increasing costs of providing services people rely on while also struggling with significantly declining revenue resulting from the great recession.

Until recently, I have been especially impressed by the ways in which Baltimore County has tackled these challenges. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the County Council planned well for these days, amassing a sizable surplus when times were good. Moreover, they have not been reluctant to make difficult reductions in government, merging departments and finding efficiencies that are saving millions of dollars annually.

Fiscal prudence, however, should never come at the expense of communities – and should absolutely seek to avoid breaking one’s commitment. The admiration I once had for the difficult decisions being made by the county has been sharply diminished, as the Kamenetz administration recently made an “economic” decision that will be a detriment to the greater Dundalk community. Of greater concern, it represents a breach of trust.

I have recently been informed that the administration of Baltimore County had decided not to move forward on the completion of the Heritage Trail, symbolized by its failure to purchase the last parcel of land required. The trail sought to establish a new, neighborhood-scale roadway that better connects Dundalk’s historic town center with the thriving Canton area and with the area’s largest employer, the Port of Baltimore, through the extension of Center Place to Broening Highway. In addition to opening up new economic opportunities for Dundalk’s main street, the project would have also diverted truck traffic away from and eliminated a truck depot located in a residential area.

Indeed, while it is regrettable that some of the benefits of the originally-proposed projects may now never materialize, it is shameful to think that our government would turn away from a long-standing commitment that it has made with the community. Moreover, it disregards the efforts of community members who have gone great lengths to support this project – going so far as joining me to personally testify at Baltimore City Hall to make it even possible for the county to purchase the property in the first place.

Making matters worse, our local government did not even offer the community the opportunity to provide input while they were considering the termination of this project. Opening the dialogue would have at least allowed community members to offer alternative cuts or creating funding mechanisms to keep the project alive.

I strongly encourage you to contact our local government officials, and especially County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, whose administration made the decision to stop this project.

When you make your contact, tell the County Executive and his administration that their failure to follow through on this commitment is unacceptable.  Let them know how wrong it is to turn their back on its residents, and that Baltimore County has a responsibility to find a way to finish what they have started.  We all deserve nothing less from our elected officials at all levels.

State Del. John A. Olszewski, Jr. can be reached via email at john.olszewski@house.state.md.us. His district phone number is 410 282-1733.   

Buzz Beeler October 13, 2011 at 10:13 PM
I'll get back to you on this one. Until then -- "Happy trails to you, until we meet again." Now there was one of the really good guys, Roy Rodgers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYsO890YJY
Bridget Lombardi October 13, 2011 at 11:18 PM
Del O what in the world is wrong with you guys? The feds are broke. The state is broke. And the County is trying to not layoff employees or raise my property taxes. Thank God at least one elected leader knows when to stop spending. A trail may be a nice little thing in good times. If you haven't noticed, we are not in good times. This County Executive has actually shocked me by how he's looked out for my dollars-- I hope he keeps it up. Maybe you guys should take some notes.
Bob Weiner October 13, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Bridget do you want to know the best part-- it was the State that took away the funding for this project not the County. Oh, the Delegate forgot to mention that. And we wonder why people are fed up. I didn't vote for Kaminits but if he keeps this up I sure will next time. I DON'T WANT MY TAXES RAISED!!!!!! He seems to get it.
Mr. Smoot October 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM
John really??? This article shows that you just don't get it. I will contact County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and thank him.
Dave Broder October 14, 2011 at 12:33 AM
I heard Kamanatz speak the other night in Catonsville-- hadn't heard him before. He's actually running government like a business-- now that's a new idea. Delegate you are on the wrong side of this one. You want to spend, spend, spend. Sorry, but the gravy train is over. The people get it-- you guys don't. I can't believe someone in Towson actually gets it. Go figure. Take notes Delegate. Get the state to pay for your park-- I prefer to keep my property taxes from being raised.
Jimmy Thompson October 14, 2011 at 01:22 AM
Wiener- get a clue. This has always been a county project. It used to be funded, too, until money was pulled from it to fund Towson projects. Have you seen the brand new brick-paved roads there lately? They found the money for that, though. I for one am glad we have a representative who has the courage to stand up to this Dumping on Dundalk.
Sean Douglas Franklin October 14, 2011 at 01:32 AM
Wiener I think Jimmy is right you came up a little short on this one, but it's okay Wiener that happens sometimes. Do you live in Dundalk or one of those area Kamenetz is catering too? He is being fiscally conservative on the east side while continuing to spend on the west side.
Jimmy Thompson October 14, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Also- isn't this the Trail that has already been started? How much has already been put into this project (over a million?) that can now be Baltimore County's "Road to Nowhere." Thank God we have somewhere for trucks to park and the drug users to hang out since it won't be used otherwise-- not exactly my idea of either fiscal prudence or positive community outcomes. Can we say the County is being penny wise and pound foolish? I think so.
Buzz Beeler October 14, 2011 at 02:11 AM
I think the trail led to PUD Ville because it was so scenic.
Jimmy October 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Ok, severl comments about the comments... First, the last time the county was run like a business, we all wished we never elected Roger Hayden! Second, Mr Kamenetz is not interested in the county, like someone said, he is spending on the projects he sees everyday and cutting the things he can't see from his house. Third, Before he was elected to the position of County Executive, he managed to get
Jimmy October 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM
a bill passed that gives the county Exec 100% pension after serving only ONE term in office...how many people in Dundalk get a100% pension...how long do you have to work to get that? Fourth and finally (although I can go on ) The retirement incentive that is being voted on Monday will give supervisory employees up to 3 additional years credited to their service...this can give these people up to 9% more in their pension. True the agency has to eliminate one budgeted position for each person that uses the inscentive, it states that higher paying position doesn't have to be the one eliminated...what do you think will happen. Someone will get promoted to fill the vacant positon and someone in the trenches will loose their position. We have too many chiefs and not enough indians in this county! Fifth (OOPS, I lied...) Mr K spoke in PH last night and said the snow will still get plowed even though publlic works is being reduced. Want to know how? A fire engine will get taken out of service and their driver will get into a snow plow...The FD was recently asked to "volunteer" for this task if they have the proper driver's license to do this. Hmmm. That's all for now.
rayparkville October 14, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Jimmy you must be the only firefighter still wallowing over the fact that your guy lost the election. Get over it and stop spreading lies. The issue in this article is that delegate junior is a cry baby because the county won't waste a million dollars for land in Baltimore CITY that has a going business. Get real with the economic times!
Sean Douglas Franklin October 14, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Ray you have nothing to do with Dundalk why do you care? It is not a waste it is a road that will promote economic development and foster ties between communities.
County Observer October 14, 2011 at 03:00 PM
I find it funny that so many who are from outside the area of Dundalk are trolling the Dundalk Patch blogosphere to defend this decision. Surely, just coincidence.
Freddy October 14, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Ray, What lies have Jimmy made? Snow removal: Truth: The County has a list of FF's that will plow snow. Unknown: Will they place units out of service to fill the needs of plow drivers Early out: Truth: Up to 200 people eligable to get a additional 36 months added to the current years of service. Unknown: How many will take this carrot and how much this will hurt the pension system. Here is another fact. KK has hired a member of the volunteer fire association at a salary of 110,000 plus this person also retired from the county fire department on a disability years ago. Why hire someone at that cost only to issue a early out months later. Something smells fishy in the fish bowl
Dundalkwatchdog October 14, 2011 at 03:52 PM
What strikes me first in this article was an omission. Jr mentions his dissappointment and disapproval at local govt and nentions Kamenetz by name. Where's daddys name? Isn't he our local representative and also the County Chair?
REDDOG FAMILY LAWN SERVICE October 14, 2011 at 07:28 PM
People crack me up! We need to control our "Political Leaders". Who owns a company, where the employ's make more then the company? So why do "OUR" repersentives make more then the so called average worker? Cut thier pay, perks, ect..... . Get them in place, we need people to work for us.
REDDOG FAMILY LAWN SERVICE October 14, 2011 at 07:32 PM
I thought that this project was a joke anyway! All that was being done, was to push the homeless from the woods. Still did not work.
Jimmy Thompson October 14, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Kind of hard for it to work if it was never finished ... in fact, what they have done may very well attract MORE homeless and other unsavory characters. Classic! BTW, most local elected reps make about what most "normal" workers make. Congress and County Executive do pretty well for themselves, although it's worth noting that there are folks that work FOR the CE and Governor that make more than thaty do.
Jimmy October 14, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Thanks for your back up Freddy. No lies here...Figure the odds...how would the plows get manned by firemen if they don't take equipment out of service? Yes uncerntaine, but why would they cut back drivers in public works and back fill them with people that get paid alot more at time and a half...seems foolish to pay firefighters time and a half when they can do that to the existing public works drivers. And yes, a person from the west side of hte county was hires last summer at about $110k...he has been collecting a disability pension for over 20 years and riding a volunteer ambulance while collecting the pension. That pension should have been taken away the first time he set foot on an ambulance! BTW, rumor has it he is giong to be the next Chief of the FD.
Jimmy October 14, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Red Dog, I agree with you but we just elected a majority of new politicians in the county and they still are only looking after themselves. It seems like a disease, you are a great person untill you take public office. then it's every amn for himself.
roger dorn October 16, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Let's see you complain when the gov't is not run "like a business". Then the gov't make a sensible business decision and there's more complaint.The only answer is most of you "bloggers" only hate to hate, everything gov't does is bad. This decision made perfect "business" sense. In these times you need to make tough calls about where the money goes. Right now is not the time for this initiative. C'mon "junior" quit protecting your own backside with this type of nonsense. You hate taxes(see the no vote on the alcohol tax) but want a huge investment at a time of severe austerity. Your seat is safe, start standing up for more important issues. I bet the Sunday dinner table just got a bit more interesting since it was dad who started the eastside crusade for Mr. Kamenetz.
Wayne Monroe October 16, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Sorry, I fail to see any particular benefit in this "trail". I think it was wise to hold it up. The delegate would better focus on the redistricting issue.
Dawn Shipley October 17, 2011 at 01:42 PM
I live in the affected neighborhood, the benefit to me is the idea that 18 wheelers would stop traveling up and down my residential street, breaking branches, causing traffice issues. I am for cutting down on spending my tax dollars, I just am not sure the idea of nixing a half done project is a smart idea either... that makes the money spent a waste. Also, I am one who believes that Dundalk, with it's low voter turn out, is never on the list of neighborhoods to "please" when politicians are spending money. they get more votes for the money in other neighborhoods for sure... Until we ALL rise up and make a difference at the polls we will always be neglected!
mike gardiner October 30, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Where is Delegate Olszewski coming from? What are his priorities? Doesn't he know that over 200 County employees will lose their jobs because of a need to cut the budget. Doesn't he know that schools, bridges, and roads need repair first. Doesn't he know that we need to keep police on the street to protect us? These things are more important than a trail especially in bad economic times!!
Buzz Beeler October 30, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Mike, after the recent fiasco inside the police department, the looming ADA investigation by the feds, and the lawsuits lined up behind that, the waste is in the multimillions. Fred Homan is involved in many of these gaffs and yet the county executive allows this man to continue to plunder our tax dollars. In other words there is a lack of leadership.
Michael DiMarzio January 28, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Jimmy Thompson makes an excellent point...this isn't about the county deciding to not spend money (they are still going ahead with spending a small fortune on the Towson City Center redevelopment, and the Towson Circle III project), this is about the county deciding that other areas take priority over Dundalk. The sad thing is, this was a project that, comparatively, didn't cost a lot of money, and was already half-done, and then the county decided mid-way to pull the funding to funnel the cash to it's more wealthy constituencies. This isn't about fiscal responsibility, this is about county leadership that doesn't see the benefit to building a park in Dundalk, when it can spend the money on another parking garage in Towson.

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