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Letters to the editor

July 23, 2004

Park transfer a good deal


To the editor:

After reading your July 18 article on the Morgan Grove Park controversy, I thought it might be useful to your readers to know a few facts about the park, its operation and the present situation.

The Shepherdstown Men's Club purchased Morgan's Grove Park in 1961. Initially maintained through voluntary efforts, through the years it became increasingly apparent that club members had neither the time nor interest in keeping the park presentable.

In 1995, the park was leased to the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission and is currently under lease to the commission until 2013. By all accounts the park is very well maintained.

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Under the terms of the lease agreement, the club pays an annual fee of $4,000 for upkeep of the park. The club has no control over the operation of the park and all income and expenses accrue to the county. The county reported net out-of-pocket expenses for park maintenance in 2003 of about $19,000.

In recent years, there has been an ongoing proposal to develop up to 75 townhouses on an 11-acre tract adjacent to the park.

In the belief that such development would have an adverse impact on the park and on historic Town Run, which runs through the park, the club has fought the proposal in the courts, incurring considerable legal expenses. The issue is currently pending in federal court.

Recently, several members of the Jefferson County Commission proposed that the county purchase the 11 acres and combine it with Morgan Grove Park.

Their action would be predicated on the club transferring the present 20-acre Morgan Grove Park to the county. The transfer by the club would, in return, require that the entire 31 acres be held in perpetuity as parkland.

The issue has been debated by the Men's Club board and will be presented to the club members at a meeting in September.

A two-thirds vote of members present and voting will be required to transfer the property.

The advantages of taking the county up on its proposal are obvious to most. Shepherdstown would get a 50 percent increase in the size of its park, the threat of dense development immediately next door would be eliminated and the Men's Club would save $4,000 a year and be relieved of any further liability for the park.

All this for legally transferring a tract of land that the club effectively "gave away" nearly 10 years ago. Not a bad bargain at all.

Edward R. Moore
Shepherdstown, W.Va.




Time to get to work on affordable housing


To the editor:

Bob Maginnis' column, "Montgomery's lesson in affordable housing" (Sunday, July 11), represents some solid research and wise recommendations.

The recent jump in housing prices, while wages of lower income households remain static at the bottom, underscores the need for some visionary policy-making in Washington County. Acting now to follow the model of Montgomery's Moderately Price Dwelling Unit program (MPDU) is clearly the answer.

Known among affordable housing practitioners as inclusionary zoning, the MPDU program is a bold departure from the "project" approach to building affordable housing. The MPDU strategy of making sure that everyone has a place to live simply requires a modest percentage of affordable units in each development larger than 35 units. Developers are compensated by earning density bonuses.

Frederick County recently adopted MPDU in its zoning code. Much of the support in Frederick County was about reasons beyond the fact that MPDU is an effective way to produce affordable housing.

Some civic leaders were concerned about the loss of new investment if the county lacked adequate work force housing. Others were concerned about engaging people in the community if so many have to commute to West Virginia or Pennsylvania to find housing. A sense of community works best when people can work and live in the same place.

My primary reason for supporting MPDU springs from 30 years of affordable-housing experience. If we have learned anything, it is that concentrating low-income households is a mistake.

The MPDU approach avoids this problem while producing viable communities.

James Upchurch
President
Interfaith Housing Alliance Inc.

Hagerstown




Job well done


To the editor:

The board of directors of MIHI, (Many Individuals Helping Individuals,) would like to thank everyone who helped this summer with the two Fishin' Frenzy events at the Star Community on Broadfording Church Road and Hagerstown's Pangborn Park.

MIHI would especially like to recognize the efforts of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wade Moore of the Albert Powell Fish Hatchery, Cindy Kalkbrenner of the Star Community, the employees of the City of Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Department and Jim Kline of the Antietam Bassmasters.

Our children, senior citizens and those with disabilities thank you all for a job well done.

N. Linn Hendershot
MIHI Chairman

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