Friday, October 01, 2010

Bye Bye Belmont

It was inevitable I suppose. Ever since the American Chemical Society sold the Belmont Conference Center to Howard Community College Educational Foundation back in 2004 the 18th century historic estate has been enveloped in controversy. First it was the creative financing arrangement that was used to acquire the property and then it was the colleges ill fated attempts to expand the conference center.

At every step along the way a group that ironically calls itself "Save Belmont" has worked to thwart any attempt to make it a viable entity.

Earlier this year, the college put the property up for sale but continued to operate the conference center. Now they are shutting it down. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun Belmont "will close at year's end, costing six people their jobs, college officials announced Thursday."

For years, a group of local residents who live near the estate have fought the college's purchase and operation of the property. They opposed suggestions for widening the poorly paved single-lane entry road, proposals for development on the property and what they considered threats to the estate's historic ambience.

"It's a sad day," said Cathy Hudson, an Elkridge resident who helped form the Save Belmont Coalition to protect the property's historic status. "It has potential for being a successful business, but they didn't have the vision for it," she said about college officials.

Didn't have the vision for it?

Judging by how neighbors have responded to any plans for the historic estate I'd have to say that the only "vision" that the Save Belmont folks will find acceptable is one that returns the property to private ownership.

That would be a shame but at this point that seems to be the most likely scenario which leads one to ask, save Belmont for whom?
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