Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thanks Anon 10:49 AM!

This blog has always been wide open to anonymous posters. This policy invites both benefits and detriments such as the occasional spam post that exists solely to divert traffic to a different site or god knows what else. I routinely delete this spamoola as soon as I see it but that’s about the only thing I’ll delete.

I enjoy all dialogue, both fine wine refined and sushi grade raw. And sometimes, just sometimes, I’ll get an anonymous comment on a post that I’ll really like because it gets me to thinking a different way. I got one of those yesterday.

Anon 10:49 AM commented on my Friday post about the county putting the Ridge Road property up for sale. The current administration intends to “return this land to the county tax rolls.” This would ultimately result in the heavily wooded ground being developed in some fashion. From a pure economic perspective the highest and best use of this property would be retail. It is currently zoned POR. (Planned Office Research).

Anon 10:49 AM believes the county would get a greater value if it preserved these twenty four acres as a park. Anon 10:49 AM’s park would include a pedestrian overpass over Route 40.

Anon 10:49 AM estimates that the county would likely net $6 million from the sale of this property. Anon 10:49 AM wonders if the county could ever buy 24 acres of heavily “forested” in Ellicott City at that price.

In my opinion, with current POR zoning, the county is more likely to net around $5 million.

Ironically, it was then County Executive Jim Robey who got the county to purchase this property. It was also his administration that developed the Route 40 Enhancement Study.

The current administration says that it needs the proceeds to fund the renovations of the existing county complex. No one can argue that those buildings need renovating, they’ve never been right. Jim once quipped to me that he’d throw the builder in jail if he could. You may recall that Jim was also the former chief of police.

The thing is, according to an article by Larry Carson in the Howard section of the Sun today, the renovations will cost $22 million. The county also plans to purchase office space in the Meridian Square project in Oakland Mills. That will cost an additional $3.9 million for a total of about $26 million.

It sort of puts that $5 million dollar profit into perspective and I’m starting to like the park idea a lot. Maybe the now "Senator" Jim Robey can cajole some extra funds out of the state coffers to make up for the shortfall.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be careful not to mislead.

It is not the $5 million net profit that should be thought of as the cost of the park, it is the gross $9 million (roughly) value of the lot that would be the cost of the park. To focus on the $5 million profit completely ignores the $3.7 million dollar cost of the property to begin with. In other words, $3.7 million was spent by the County eight years ago, and we didn't get any services for it in return as of yet. The original purchase price should not be blown off as a sunk cost- we still need value in return for that cost.

Quite frankly, it was irresponsible of the County to buy this land and sit on it for so long. The County has no more business investing in real estate than it does in the stock market.

Anonymous said...

We most certainly did get services in return for the initial investment. 24 acres of forested land are a carbon sink, trees therein sequestering about 1 ton of CO2 per acre per year, or 384,000 pounds since purchase.

24 forested acres also provide habitat for many species, as well as some sound barrier relief from Route 40 for residences beyond the parcel.

Far from irresponsible, I think it was a timely purchase for the County to have acquired that land eight years ago, obtaining quite a bargain just ahead of the huge jump in property prices.

The County certainly should invest in property within the County where it can serve the community's interest and the public's obligation to steward the land.

Anonymous said...

Make that 2.6 tons per year per acre, or about one million pounds of CO2 sequestered since purchase.

Anonymous said...

Anon- given your deep concern for the environment, you must support very density. To that end, the County should build a Tower on the lot and save land elsewhere from falling victim to suburbia.

It is funny how many people suddenly become environmentalists when it allows them to fight development. Ironically, density is the best friend of the environment.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:26

cut.it.out.

If you want credibility, at least pretend to have an open mind. Pretend you're not pro-development at any cost. Pretend that you're not aware of any problem that more development won't fix. At least, for goodness sake, pretend.

Anonymous said...

Look here, 12:28, don't assume that I have a closed mind or support development at any cost just because we disagree. At least have the intellectual courtesy to do something other than misrepresent my point of view.

$9 million dollars is a lot of money. If you had it in the bank, you would never have to work again. Decisions on how to spend such a large amount should not be made as flippantly as some are suggesting. We already have several nice parks in this County, what we don't have is a decent building for County offices.

No matter how much we do for the environment, we could always do more. You must recognize, however, that our resources are not unlimited.

Anonymous said...

"given your deep concern for the environment, you must support very density. To that end, the County should build a Tower on the lot and save land elsewhere from falling victim to suburbia."

Density can be good, but not necessarily all density. If towers are built that actually do set aside land in effective and well-planned ways onsite or elsewhere, that's good. Yet, if open space land is preserved elsewhere, but consumed in developed areas to the point that parks are inaccessibly too far to walk to, or to the point that open space areas aren't interconnected, or to the point that public roads become noticably unaesthetic due to lack of open space greenery, then that's bad.

"It is funny how many people suddenly become environmentalists when it allows them to fight development. Ironically, density is the best friend of the environment."

Density, if done carefully, can be a positive, but density to the point of isolating or totally consuming open spaces is certainly not a friend of the environment.

"Decisions on how to spend such a large amount should not be made as flippantly as some are suggesting."

If you review my comments, you'll see I did state the need to reconsider the Route 40 study prior to making any decision. That's certainly less flippant than the just announced plan to sell off the land without reviewing this change in land use relative to the Route 40 study's findings and recommendations.

"We already have several nice parks in this County, what we don't have is a decent building for County offices."

How many of those parks are walking distance for the community near Rogers Avenue and Route 40?

And I've been to the County buildings, never getting the impression that they were in need of repairs or renovations, especially amounting to $22 million. Perhaps it reflects well on the facilities staff that any deficiencies aren't so obvious. Would someone please explain just what needs to be fixed or changed?

Anonymous said...

Density may or may not be good, just like all other kinds of development.

Open space is not all good. Sure it is beautiful, but it is very expensive, and it does not support wildlife depending on what it entails.

Who cares how many parks are within walking distance of Rogers Ave and route 40? What percentage of people in this County walk anywhere? I am sick of hearing people talk about walkability. Nobody walks! Centenial Park might be too far to get to on a bike from there, but I think Cypress Meade Park would be a nice ride.

jonny goldstein said...

I am laughing at the whole anonymous thing. C'mon folks, share your identity. Otherwise it's tough to take you seriously.

Anonymous said...

Taken seriously by whom? Looks like you (and of course, the "blogger" who whines endlessly about anonymous posting yet has the least active blogs in the 'sphere - social technology only works if you don't harass people so much they abscond) are the only one with a problem.

Anonymous said...

Johnny,

If you're like others who complain about anons, then it's likely you used to be one. Just like reformed smokers - the hypocrisy!

And speak for yourself. Not only do anons take each other seriously, but most other readers do as well.

jim adams said...

I have been posting for years as Jim Adams, no one knows my real name is Anony Mous, no middle initial.

My friends call me Anon