Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.

Stroll and the City

Frederick Magazine
Frederick City’s planning office works to make sure residents and visitors can traipse through the city with ease. Deputy Director of Planning Joe Adkins has a pedometer clipped to his belt and estimates that at least a half dozen of his staff regularly walk or bike to city hall. Downtown, with its tree-lined side streets and historic buildings to admire, speaks for itself as a great place to walk, as does Baker Park and Carroll Creek Linear Park. But Adkins says plans are moving forward with projects such as a pathway from the Golden Mile to Downtown and one connecting Worman’s Mill to the MARC Station on East Street, following the railroad tracks. He sounds almost gleeful when he talks about the idea of using the temporary pedestrian bridge on Motter Avenue, “if we can get it at a good price,” as a permanent link over Md. 26. Walkers grooving with their way of getting around tend to evangelize. On a recent rainy Sunday, about 60 people delayed their dinners to fill the seats in City Hall to listen to Washington, D.C., architect and city planner Jeff Speck talk about Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, the title of his newest book. Speck is a huge fan of Frederick and if certain pieces of his family’s life hadn’t fallen into place he would now be calling the place home. “Frederick is a good example of a city that has great bones. Frederick may not be as dense or as large as other cities, but at its heart it performs extremely well,” he says.