By Catherine Pugh,
Special to the AFRO
The Randallstown NAACP created a task force nearly eight months ago to focus on the revitalization of the nine mile corridor of Liberty Road, which starts at the Baltimore City/County line and travels up to Deer Park Road. Recently, they released the results of the task force with a 23-page report outlining their findings.
“The elected officials especially, our 44B state representatives and council council representatives, attended every meeting. If our federal representatives were not there they would send representation,” said Randallstown NAACP Ryan Coleman.
The report points out several deteriorated buildings along the corridor that need to be repaired and rehabilitated, while others received a recommendation to be removed. Plans for a Health Center and Community Entertainment Center for gatherings are also identified in the plan. Residents would like to call the proposed establishment, “The Community Gathering Place.”
“We want to be able to attract businesses like ‘Dave and Busters,’ movie theater
] and bowling alleys,” says Coleman. “Looking at this corridor is not new.”
Baltimore County Executives going back to Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, have taken interest in the Liberty Road Corridor and some initiatives have been seen through. In 1978 the Liberty Road Community Development Corporation (LCDC) was formed but evolved into the Liberty Road Business Association. In 1980 a plan adopted by the County Council designated the nine-mile Liberty Road Corridor as a revitalization area.
Recently, federal officials representing Randallstown committed to providing funding for the Post Office at the gateway of the corridor, soon to be dedicated to Congressman Parren J. Mitchell. The county has had conversations with Baltimore City government officials about creating a pocket park that encompasses both Baltimore City and County.
“We are hopeful that it will move forward,” said Coleman, noting that many investments needed have not been realized.
Coleman said that much of the Liberty Road corridor is surrounded by African American communities and, in his opinion, that accounts for the lack of quality development taking place.
“We have too many dollar stores and gas stations with mini-marts attached to them,” Coleman pointed out. “What is interesting is that the income levels of those living in and around this corridor are above the state average. They can support quality stores and entertainment areas–not only for adults but for our children.”
“We envision more quality supermarkets with fresh foods, quality sit-down restaurants,” Coleman told the AFRO. “I believe that with the NAACP leading this task force, we have been heard and our agenda will move forward. What I am looking forward to is the implementation stage.”
Coleman said he understands that the work to revitalize the corridor has just begun.
“We look forward to a Request for Proposal being extended by the county planning department in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development. We want dates and a time frame that assures us this work is going to be done,” he said. “I am meeting with our county executive Olszewski and I am going to raise the issue of a time frame. He has been supportive of our community, and we believe he’ll continue to be. He was a part of the task force.”
The task force was composed of twenty-four individuals, to include U.S. Senator Ben Cardin; Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger; Congressman Kweisi Mfume; Speaker Adrienne A. Jones; State Senator Delores G. Kelley; State Senator Charles E. Sydnor III; Delegate Benjamin Brooks; Delegate Sheila Ruth; Delegates Alethia McCaskill; County Executive Johnny Olszewski; Chairman Julian Jones; Councilman Izzy Patoka; Linda V. Forsyth; Kimberly Shiloh; Shirley Supik; Kirk Mitchell; Mrs. Martha Nathanson and Raekwon Conaway. NAACP members on the task force included Nigeria Rolling Ford, Autrese Thornton, Lamont Cook, Derrick Burnett and President Ryan Coleman.