We Love This Town

While driving to work last week, I passed the electronic sign at Seven Oaks Auto on Telegraph Road. In addition to time and temperature, it read: “Welcome to Odenton, we love this town.” It got me to thinking about why those of us who have worked and/or lived here for most of our professional lives are so passionate about the pace of improvements or lack thereof for Odenton Town Center.

Make no mistake; there has been progress, especially lately with new developments, services and promise of a new presentation for our town. But when viewed in terms of the time it has taken to get to this point and the time it will take to deliver on most, if not all of the promise, it still is frustrating.

The sign I saw is at the northern “gateway” to Odenton Town Center, where there also resides a median sign for Odenton Town Center. The former is bright, lit and animated. The latter is unlit and unkempt. The former is privately owned and maintained. The latter, installed by Anne Arundel County, is not. In fact most of the installations by our County over the last decade, while associated with new development the County likes to trumpet, sadly have not been maintained.  The special lighting on Piney Orchard Parkway, public sidewalk railings all damaged years ago, OTC “gateway” and signage at Sappington Circle all remain unrepaired despite being reported often. Landscape maintenance for plantings required of private developers on public roads is also nonexistent.

Route 170 near library.

These conditions contribute to the awful perception that despite all the new development and accoutrements, the town we love suffers with the outside world.  Businesses, government agencies, prospective residents all have the same reaction….. “Where is everything and why does it look so old and run down?”  Our local business organization, the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce has been working to address this issue. It’s brought it to the County’s attention several times and even offered to develop a way for the private sector to help fund and maintain some improvements. To this point, there is still no reaction from the County, except the oft used excuse, “we don’t have the funding.” I find it questionable in light of several County road paving projects (some over dead-end roads) that have been accomplished in the past year.

It’s no wonder there have been calls by certain individuals and groups in Odenton, for Odenton to incorporate and represent itself. Though this is highly unlikely, so is the attention of local politicians whose job it is supposed to be to energetically represent and promote our town. It’s not as if we are not a “Priority Funding Area” and BRAC zone as targeted by the State with our own Town Center Master Plan with emphasis on improvements needed by Anne Arundel County.

Before everyone laments having to go to The Village at Waugh Chapel, Village South, Glen Burnie, Laurel and just about everywhere else to find upscale housing, nice presentations and greatly needed services, lets take pride to maintain those revitalized Town Center elements and step up the pace to finish what we started!

by Jay Winer