Written by: Olivia Sanchez
Source: Capital Gazette – https://www.capitalgazette.com/news/ac-cn-pickard-gb-revitalization-20191018-20191018-6ulddkjizbcbjiy53dyaxpyycy-story.html
Councilwoman Allison Pickard talks Glen Burnie revitalization to anyone who will listen.
This summer, when they were randomly seated at the same table at a cook-off, The Millersville Democrat pitched her ideas to Tom Riford, Maryland’s assistant secretary for commerce. By the end of the meal, Riford said he had to see what she was talking about with his own eyes. The two organized a tour of the area.
So on Thursday afternoon, in the whipping wind, Pickard gave him a walking tour of Glen Burnie. She walked him around the town’s center, talking about her vision of a community come to life and all the plans she wants to finally mobilize.
“There are a lot of plans in binders on shelves, but not a lot in action,” said Pickard, vice chair of the County Council. She wants to change that.
Pickard has applied for a $50,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development that would fund a planning and zoning analysis of the area, which would help everyone involved better understand how the space might be optimized.
And on Wednesday at a Glen Burnie town hall, she’ll announce a task force committee made up of residents, developers and business owners to help strategically materialize her vision for the town’s center.
Revitalization has been a hot topic in Anne Arundel County since at least 2004, when several Small Area Plans were created. The plan for Glen Burnie outlines goals for economic development, transportation improvements, public utilities, land use and zoning. Pickard’s ideas don’t stray far from the recommendations made 15 years ago, but she is ready to finally see them implemented.
County officials are putting a greater focus on more regional planning than in previous years. Pickard won her election alongside County Executive Steuart Pittman, who campaigned on the importance and poor use of the county Small Area Plans. His administration is currently building the county’s General Development Plan, a 10-year document that will guide planning, zoning and development decisions. That plan is scheduled to be redone every eight years.
Pickard said she wants to add crosswalks to encourage more walking, organize a farmers market, and try to be a catalyst for revitalization in other areas of the county, too.
Riford, whose work focuses on the tourism industry, methodically questioned Pickard about the amount of local lodging, how the public transit system works, and, when Pickard asked him to envision the farmers market, whether it would be accessible to cyclists.
“There is so much traffic,” Riford said. “People are coming from somewhere, and they’re going somewhere, but they’re not stopping here. Yet.”
He wanted to know exactly how close the nearest live theater was, and spoke about quality of life as if it was almost formulaic.
Riford called the walking tour a venture in “idea-gathering” but encouraged Pickard to also set strategic, achievable goals.
“There are going to be a lot of compromises,” Riford said, “but if you keep pushing, there will still be small victories.”
She doesn’t want to do too much too fast, but she does want to get the ball rolling.
She said she refuses to be complacent.
“I’m not willing to just wait and see what happens,” Pickard said. “I know these things take time. It doesn’t happen overnight and Glen Burnie has been waiting for decades.”