The following letter was sent by Gina A. Kazimir to Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and each member of the Harford County Council. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
Dear Mr. Glassman and Members of the County Council:
I am writing regarding Resolution 12-15, declaring the Mt. Soma property surplus and conveying it to Maryland American Water Company. I have grave concerns and significant questions about this resolution, questions which I would like to ask and which I feel should be addressed before this resolution is considered.
1. Why is this property being declared as surplus? In the 1999, 2004 and 2012 Master Plans this property is designated as a park, with a trail providing loop access to the Ma & Pa Trail. This property is inside the Development Envelope, and the last thing we have a surplus of in that area is open, green park space! What, therefore, is the reasoning for deciding that one of the last remaining vestiges of open land for public use is excess and no longer needed?
2. If a reservoir is actually needed, why is the land not being simply leased strictly for that use? Or, alternately, why not sell ONLY the amount needed for the reservoir, with a requirement to keep the rest of the property as a park as it is designated? Why is the entire parcel being conveyed?
3. The price for which the property is being offered is shockingly low to anyone living near Bel Air. IF the land is truly surplus, why were competitive bids for it not solicited?
4. Part of the Mt. Soma property has already been lost to an apartment complex and its access road, which accrues no public benefit. Why is this property – parkland, not surplus per multiple iterations of the Master Plan – being considered for sale with no restrictions on its use? Are any guarantees being put in place to ensure that it is ONLY used as a reservoir, which could be considered a public benefit, and not in any other way other than as parkland?
5. Has Maryland American Water proven fully that a reservoir or water impoundment area is indeed viable on this property? If not, will the company be required to do so before acquiring the property? If the land proves inappropriate for such use, what then happens?
6. The resolution does not indicate ANY restrictions on the land use. Why not?
7. With the Master Plan review currently underway, isn’t this an exceptionally poor time to be declaring rare open space within the Development Envelope to be surplus? Would it not make considerably more sense to, at the very least, wait until some citizen input is received and the new Master Plan is developed? Why the rush to sell?
Water is a public benefit. But this resolution seems only to confer private benefits to a for-profit corporation, one that isn’t even headquartered in the state, let alone in Harford County! Does this resolution truly benefit the citizens, or is it just another example of our government putting corporate and special interests above those of the people?
I look forward to your response, and hope that you will either withdraw, or vote against, this resolution as currently presented.
Gina A. Kazimir
Bel Air, MD 21014