From the Save The Rocks campaign:
Harford County Councilman Chad Shrodes announced Jan. 27 he has established an advisory committee to address citizen concerns about how MD 24 through Rocks State Park should be improved. The move follows strong citizen opposition to a State Highway Administration plan to move portions of the roadway 20 feet away from Deer Creek in places throughout the park, known for its scenic rock outcroppings and boulders along the road — features the SHA plan would have literally blasted away. SHA officials backed off its plan when a number of citizens and elected officials called their attention to the Save The Rocks campaign, a committee of local residents who created a Facebook page in late December that quickly attracted more than 7,000 fans denouncing the plan.
Shrodes said the advisory committee includes several local residents involved in the Save The Rocks group, as well as decisionmakers from SHA and the Dept. of Natural Resources Park Service who have agreed to start over to come up with a new plan that will address the primary concern of residents. The Save The Rocks campaign was led by local residents Deborah Bowers, Brian Goodman and Stephanie Stone.
“We have said all along that the Highway Administration needs to understand the importance of protecting the scenic beauty and historic interest in the Rocks area, and that the plan should focus on streambank restoration, not moving the road,” Bowers said.
The Rocks Road Advisory Committee will meet for the first time Feb. 10. For Bowers and her neighbors, it is the culmination of weeks of research and communication with residents, SHA and DNR about protecting Rocks. Councilman Shrodes said the SHA plan was unfortunate and misguided, but he said he believes things have turned around.
“I’m very pleased with the way everything is going. Look at all these people we were able to reach out to… I’m pumped up,” Shrodes said of the committee and the research he has done since first attending the SHA meeting on Dec. 17 that led to citizens organizing.
Over the last several weeks, Shrodes has also been working on a rural road element for the county’s transportation plan and wants to find ways to protect the scenic character of rural roads throughout the county.
The Advisory Committee’s discussion will be facilitated by consultants who are working with the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, a project directed by Harford County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti, who will also serve on the committee. The Deer Creek corridor is planned to be part of the greenway project.