On Government Center plan, Dundalk United is divided
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:44

Members of Dundalk United who protested the sale of the North Point Government Center last spring said they are “cautiously reviewing” the Vanguard plan but want more time before the County Council votes on the project. file photo 

Dueling press statements show opposing views

by Ben Boehl

Members of Dundalk United appear to be divided over the group’s stance on the bid selected for the planned North Point Government Center redevelopment.
    On Oct. 24, Baltimore County officials announced that Vanguard Commercial Development Inc. had been selected by a county panel as the preferred bidder for the Government Center site.
    After Vanguard was announced as the chosen bidder, members of Dundalk United released a statement in opposition to the selection.
    “Dundalk United remains adamantly opposed to Mr. Kamenetz’s proposed unprecedented action of selling a public park and recreation facilities for private commercial redevelopment. North Point Government Center Park is a treasured place, carefully preserved for our children and grandchildren,” the statement said.
    “It connects and binds generations to the Dundalk area. The loss of any part of this popular site will have a negative impact on the surrounding area. Property values will decrease, and there will be less open green space in the Eastfield-Stanbrook community.”
    The email was not signed but the address was dundalkunited@...
    However, at least two members of Dundalk United, Debbie Staigerwald and Dave Patro, said that the e-mail was sent before the group had a meeting and chose not to make a decision on the Vanguard proposal. Those members now say the group is evaluating the pros and cons of the project.
    Staigerwald, who is also the director of the Sky is the Limit theatre program located at the Government Center, released the following statement.
    “Dundalk United is cautiously reviewing the information provided by the County Executive concerning the sale of the North Point Government Center Park. 
    “Members of the community need time to speak to all parties involved so that they can ask questions about the proposal.  We look forward to having public input meetings and hope we will be granted time to analyze all of the presented information,” the  statement said adding that the group is concerned about the amount of time that will be allowed to evaluate the project.
    According to the county executive’s office, the County Council will schedule discussion of the Vanguard and the other two proposed contracts (Towson and Randallstown) at a council work session on Nov. 12.
    Then the council is expected to vote on the proposals during a Nov. 18 legislative session. The Dundalk United statement called that too short of a timeframe for a proper review.
     “We are asking the County Council to put their vote on hold and give us a reasonable extension so that we have time to gather information and review the proposal.  We trust that all parties involved will be open-minded to all options as we move forward.”
    It appears that not all members of Dundalk United agree with the new approach. When the new statement was forwarded to the original dundalkunited@... e-mail address, the recipient responded “Dundalk United’s position has not changed.”
    When the recipient was asked to identify themselves, that person did not respond.
    Staigerwald would not reveal the person who was behind the Dundalk United e-mail, but she did say that person was at the last meeting and voted in favor of the new approach. Staigerwald added that no one in Dundalk United is happy with the new proposal, but said the group has to look out for the best interest of Dundalk.
    “I can’t speak for everybody, but we can’t be closed minded. We have to do our due diligence,” Staigerwald said.
    Patro,  who is also president of the North Point Village Community Association, said he agrees with the new approach and Staigerwald’s statement.
    Patro added that one of the biggest concerns he had was the loss of parkland, but noted that the Vanguard proposal does not impact the athletic fields on the Government Center property.
    “We are not totally against the proposal. We are looking at the agreement,” Patro said.
    Staigerwald added the group has many questions such as whether the property can be sold by Vanguard at a later time and will there be adequate space at the recreation center.
    She noted the current building allows for multiple events to take place at once, and wants to know if the indoor soccer league will have to share the same room as the theater group and if both activities can take place at the same time.
    Len Weinberg of Vanguard answered that the new recreation center will have space for multiple activities.
    “There is plenty of room  for fields and rehearsal space.” It will serve as a multiple-purpose center,” he said.
    Staigerwald added that Dundalk United would like to meet with representatives of Vanguard for answers to those questions.
    “Of course, if it was up to us, we don’t want to lose any of our [recreation facilities], but at this point we want the best for our community,” Staigerwald said.
    Weinberg told The Eagle on Monday that he will meet with community groups.
    Although Dundalk United members are divided on the project, Patro said the group is still united with anger about the county’s lack of transparency.
    “We do not like the way the government handled the process,” Patro said.