New council president steps up, sets goals
By ELAINE NAGEY
Richard Falk believes that every citizen needs to take a role in community affairs. As a retired physician he used newly found time to begin his role in civic and environmental affairs.
His beliefs led to a commitment to the Downs on the Severn community board and board membership of the Severn River Association.
He represented the Downs at the Generals Highway Council of Civic Associations for five years. When the council President Don Yeskey announced his interest in stepping down, Richard decided to step up. He is the new council president.
His history with the council includes the issues surrounding the Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole. Citizens had difficulty getting accurate and timely information. The council was able to advocate for our communities. Fact-finding, advocacy, and communications on behalf of the historic, pastoral highway have been the mainstay of the organization. Mr. Faulk said he intends to continue these functions and more.
He has enumerated goals for his presidency.
His first goal is to increase active participation by communities and residents along the highway corridor.
His first step was to remind communities that dues were due. The $100 per community is a minimal fee for the time and effort the council gives to studying and affecting issues. Of the amount, $25 goes to the general fund and $75 goes to the legal fund supporting legal actions in the best interests of member communities.
So much of what the council does requires a good working relationship with County Council members and their staffs - making this another goal.
His third goal is to increase the public forums on issues of interest and importance to residents in order to engage and educate residents for the corridor's benefit.
He has a second outreach effort intended to increase the capabilities of the council. He intends to establish close ties with other civic associations representing corridor residents.
For example, council interests overlap with the Severn River Association since we are located on the Severn and South River watersheds.
Mr. Faulk was willing to take on these presidential challenges and the work necessary to meet his goals with one very significant condition - that Don Yeskey remain an active part of the council. His encyclopedic knowledge of the history, issues, government and business leaders, and corridor residents will make him invaluable as an ex-officio board member.
Some of the issues on the table continue from one administration to the next.
For example, the issue of Arrow Cove, a small parcel of steep slope waterfront on Saltworks Creek. The development relies on a 1920s approval, and the council has taken the stand that times have changed. While Mr. Faulk is not hopeful of a win in the state Court of Appeals, giving the issue voice is important.
Traffic issues accompanying school development at Belvoir Farms, declaring the highway a state historic route, and controlling business development are all on the council radar. The council will analyze the impact of proposed legislation regarding nitrogen reducing septic systems and weigh in with county officials.
The biggest issue is the review of the General Development Plan. Mr. Faulk urges everyone to take the time to review the plan before it's enacted, when change is easier.
The plan will be available for reading Jan. 20 with the first of four public hearings on Jan. 26 at Annapolis High School. The second is Jan. 28 at Old Mill High. The forums run from 6 to 9 p.m.
The council is joining with the Growth Action Network and other community associations for a forum to discuss the plan at 2 p.m. Jan. 11 at Woods Church in Severna Park.
For Mr. Faulk, organization and communication are key to the council's progress. He'll make increased use of e-mail and the Internet, although hard copies of information will be available to those without e-mail.
He said he intends to establish committees to monitor issues which means some serious recruiting of enthusiasts and experts. Council members want to know what concerns residents. Traffic is a universal concern but the council is looking for issues to advocate and lobby.
Make a New Year's resolution to do your part as a Crownsville citizen. Attend the monthly meetings held the second Tuesday of every month in the basement of Historic Baldwin Hall, 1358 Millersville Road.
You can contact Mr. Faulk at email@example.com, or write him at: c/o GHCCA, P.O. Box 14, Crownsville, MD 21032.
Since September 1998, I have had the privilege of telling your Crownsville stories. Those ten years and four months translate into about 530 stories. I've turned them into about 450,000 to a half a million words. The average first time novel is 80,000 to 120,000 words.
In that time, I've missed about six columns. Once I was scooped. Once I couldn't connect with my source. A couple of times, the e-mails failed. And once I missed a column when I lost the love of my life, David, but even then you allowed me to come back and share my own story.
I have had one goal and only one goal for all those columns - accuracy. Nailing the facts goes without saying, but accuracy goes beyond facts.
I tried for accuracy in capturing the character of Crownsville's people. I found integrity, determination, honesty, adventurousness, industriousness, and compassion. I tried for accuracy in capturing the emotion of the story even for a yard sale. I found joy, enthusiasm, and, sometimes, dignified sorrow.
The stories of Crownsville will continue. And although some might say all good things must come to an end, I believe that good things change, and we use change to be better. I will continue to listen and write. Thank you for the honor of writing for you. Best wishes for the new year.
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(Revised December 2008)