Written by: Allison Pickard
Source: Capital Gazette – https://www.capitalgazette.com/opinion/columns/ac-ce-column-pickard-20191016-20191015-kjozuqprlba5rj74z4euvzxq3q-story.html
Community revitalization doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without serious effort, as Glen Burnie residents are all too aware. For me personally, three Glen Burnie moms personify the commitment to community that is needed to extend revitalization to the entire area.
For nearly a decade, Melissa Phillips, Judy Van Horne and Julie Vice persevered through an arduous and at times heartbreaking process to replace Richard Henry Lee Elementary. With true Glen Burnie grit, these three hung in there and now, finally, Anne Arundel County Public Schools is scheduled to open a beautiful new elementary school in the heart of Glen Burnie in the fall.
What lessons can we learn from the efforts of these three extraordinary women? For starters, perseverance is a vital requirement for improving our community. The commitment to large scale improvements in Glen Burnie has ebbed and flowed. The late 1980s and early ‘90s brought us Urban Renewal and the creation of the Glen Burnie Town Center. Back in 2004, a detailed Small Area Plan was generated in a community-backed effort, followed up by an even more detailed plan in the 2009 General Development Plan.
But plans cannot translate into real change without action, and that’s exactly why 2020 is shaping up to be so exciting for Glen Burnie.
What other lessons can we learn from the three moms? One of the most important lessons is that engagement from the whole community is an absolute must.
On that note, we convened a group of community stakeholders at the Glen Burnie Improvement Center in February to get focused on our mission. The Glen Burnie Improvement Association, Chamber of Commerce, Anne Arundel Community College, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., the Association of Realtors and county Planning and Zoning staff all came to the table to brainstorm a vision for the area.
One additional lesson we can learn from our three moms: get the county leadership on board.
In June, we hosted County Executive Steuart Pittman and key staff on a walking tour of the Glen Burnie Town Center area. This was a fantastic way to get leaders out of their offices and really see the endless potential of this commercial hub.
One of the most compelling discoveries has been that the county is a major stakeholder in commercial property in the area. As the Glen Burnie Town Center is home to a satellite campus of the Anne Arundel Community College and many county agency offices, we must ensure the county is a good neighbor to surrounding commercial and residential areas while creating a welcoming atmosphere for students, employees and all of our citizens. We are now working to bring a balance between county government and private commercial ventures for real sustainability.
Ensuring that Glen Burnie continues to thrive will be a big group effort, and these are truly exciting times. In order to keep the focus on Glen Burnie, we are hosting a Forum in partnership with Economic Development Corp. and the League of Women Voters; “D2 Talks – Glen Burnie Revitalization” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23 at Oakwood Elementary School, 330 Oak Manor Drive in Glen Burnie.
We will have multiple county agencies and community groups in attendance with table displays and a fantastic panel of presenters including Jerry Walker, President and CEO of Economic Development, Dr. Felicia Patterson, vice president for Student Services Anne Arundel Community College, and Steven Kaii-Zeigler, director of the county Office of Planning and Zoning.
We have exciting initiatives to announce at this event and would like to encourage citizens and business owners to get in engaged in this conversation. Hope to see you there. Let’s strengthen our community together.