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Debate Over Freedom Trail Returns - What Do You Think?

A recreational trail between Eldersburg and Sykesville has been a hot-button issue for the area since last summer, sparking a third public meeting.

A grassroots effort that started with a mulch-covered path behind a local neighborhood could blossom into a system of trails and walkways between Eldersburg and Sykesville — on a swath of land already owned by taxpayers.

The push to create a link between area communities began , when Eldersburg resident Ross Dangel founded The Freedom Trail effort by proposing a pathway. It reached its zenith with when he and volunteers laid 60 yards of mulch along a path between the renovated sports fields at Springfield Hospital Center and MacBeth Way .

Local residents complained that they had no say in the process, and the county almost immediately. The project was not approved through the Carroll County government or supported by the Freedom Area Citizens Council, Commissioner Doug Howard said at the time. Dangel from the process.

The group behind the latest proposal is made up of about 15 volunteers, representing the Sykesville parks and recreations department, the Freedom Area Recreations Council, the Springfield Hospital Center, the South Carroll Business Association and other organizations and groups, Carroll County Recreation & Parks Administrator Jeff Degitz said.

The board has met twice to identify destinations and populated areas that could be connected, and the property has stood out as a feasible solution, he said.

"Right in the middle of that geographic area is the Springfield Hospital Center, where you have a large tract of publicly owned land," he said.

Using the land, which spans hundreds of acres, would allow for connections as far south as Raincliffe Road and north to Liberty Road, and as far west as Sykeville Road and east to Slacks Road, Degitz said.

Locals have been looking for something like this for awhile, and using the hospital grounds makes sense, Delegate Susan Krebs, District 9B, said Wednesday.

"It's not high cost," she said. "It's paved, so it's a matter of making some access points … that the community is satisfied with."

Community members were invited to a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the for a presentation by a local advisory board on a concept for the Freedom Area Bike and Pedestrian Trails. It was the first public meeting since two hearings on the issue took place in and .

Degitz said once the community approves a plan, the county can apply for a Maryland Bikeways Program grant to pay for a feasibility study, which will assess the proposal for things like topography issues or environmental impact.

While Dangel had good intentions, the longer process of seeking input from the community is well worth it, Degitz said.

"I do think you end up with a better process and end result if you make that effort (to get input) rather than one individual … drawing a line and there it is," he said. 

He stressed that the proposal is just that, and encouraged members of the community to continue the conversation.

"If you want to connect these destinations and communities, here's a way that you could do it," he said. "It's a starting point for that discussion."

Degitz said he will present the plan at the Carroll County commissioners meeting Thursday, where he hopes to get approval to apply for the grant.

Blue Carroll County April 25, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Any Bozo could see this was the best idea from the start... just sayin'. Too bad the county had to wait until the community was in an uproar before getting involved and acting like they'd never heard the idea before. Then maybe they'd still have Ross doing the legwork for them AND getting the credit he deserves.
Ross Dangel April 26, 2012 at 02:40 PM
No credit is/was necessary and this was never my goal with the project. The Freedom Area Citizens' Council authorized my investigation of the feasibility of creating the trail called for in the Freedom Plan in summer of 2010. This was a public process from the start and the FACC board was apprised of every development. A charitable fundraising organization (the Freedom Trail Fund) was founded and FACC co-sponsored a Freedom Family Fun Ride in May of 2011 with the Freedom Area Rec Council (FARC), Sykesville, County Rec & Parks and CCPS (last I checked these are all public organizations). The newspapers carried no less than 3 full stories about the trail and a number of internet stories were written as well. Moreover, the MD Dept. of Transportation, (SHA) and the Board of Carroll County Commissioners (by 3-0 vote) also approved of the Freedom Trail plan and I personally even gave incoming BOC President, Doug Howard a tour of the trail route the day before he took office in December of 2010. It's perposterous that he allowed me to be characterized as working on my own or as a "rogue trail guy". Indeed, the trail was not a secret from anyone who cared to take the time to learn about it. Now after 7 months of additional consideration, pretty much the exact route I proposed for the trail in Sept. has apparently been chosen. It's still not funded, however and this remains the same challenge I identified from the start. Let's see if the county can come up with some money!
swag April 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
We have roads that need to be repaved, scools that need books, but hey Let's see if the county can come up with some money!
Buck Harmon April 26, 2012 at 03:07 PM
It's not about money, but rather control....Great work Ross!

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