- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Several residents of Charlotte Hall and New Market told the St. Mary’s County commissioners Tuesday night they don’t want the state to build a commuter park-and-ride lot in New Market.
The five commissioners said they, too, were concerned about the project.
The park-and-ride lot would be placed on county-owned property, and the commissioners have the final say if the parking lot will go there or not.
State officials briefed the commissioners last month, where no objections were made. But opposition appeared at a community meeting in Charlotte Hall last week.
“The majority of the board could say no,” Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) said at the public forum this week.
George Sparling, the county attorney for the commissioners, said Wednesday, “There’s no conveyance of land or a memorandum of understanding” at this point between the Maryland Transit Administration and the commissioners.
Jarboe said Thursday a Charlotte Hall park-and-ride lot, already under construction, is a terrible location and the New Market location is not much better. “Since we already have a terrible location, why put in a bad location and exacerbate the situation?” he said.
The parking lot for 500 vehicles is under design behind the Charlotte Hall trash and recycling convenience center, near Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary School.
“I don’t think the road infrastructure can handle a 500-car park-and-ride,” Commissioner Dan Morris (R) said Thursday. “We need 1,500 parking spots and people have got to go to work. My concern is accidents, the flow of traffic, the waste of time doing it the wrong way.”
“This is a great opportunity for the state to look at a great big park-and-ride lot in Waldorf,” Jarboe said.
“We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board,” Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said Thursday. “I’m not in favor of that parking lot” in New Market.
“We’re not in favor of this park-and-ride lot going here after hearing community input,” Commission President Jack Russell (D) said Thursday.
Charlotte Hall Developer John K. Parlett said Tuesday the current project is not thought out well, and its traffic would be disruptive to the area at the intersection of Route 5 and Route 6.
Parlett suggested to the Maryland Transit Administration an alternative site instead — a field in Mechanicsville, adjacent to the new traffic signal at Route 5 and Mechanicsville Road.
It would cost less money to buy land at that location rather than widen Route 6 in New Market, he said. Parlett does not own the land.
“I can’t imagine the cost to upgrade Route 6,” Morgan said.
The state went through the St. Mary’s County’s board of appeals and planning commission for the park-and-ride lot in New Market before. The planning commission denied it in 2007.
“I think it would have been better if it had gone through a more public process upon its return,” Commissioner Cindy Jones (R) said Thursday.
“The state transportation people will not listen to us,” Morris said. “They do not care about what our needs are or what our concerns are.”
“Not one person from MTA has ever called us,” said Jack Bailey, a New Market resident, at a Tuesday public forum. “This thing has just been shoved down our throats.”
The proposed parking lot would be concealed in the woods. “I still think there’s a huge safety concern back there,” Morgan said.
“I do not need some predator sitting in the park-and-ride watching my daughter at the playground” at the nearby elementary school, Karen Bailey said at the forum.