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Volume 15, Issue 45 ~ November 8 - November 14, 2007


Bigger and Better?
Managing Growth Spurts

Now and again, you get a glimpse of the big picture. In the heart of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, we’re at one of those times. After subterranean maneuverings who knows how long and deep, after plans and debate and expectations, landmarks have mushroomed. In awe and surprise, we see our homes have become different.

We’re not country anymore. We’ve grown up and gone to town.

In Calvert County, where growth spreads out everywhere, the landmark is Calvert Memorial Hospital. Its new outpatient wing tells the county’s 90,000 people — nearly half arrived since 1990 — that their medical needs needn’t take them away from home.

In Annapolis, has change ever been more intense? At five key points of the city we all know best — three on West Street, one at Rt. 2 and Forest Drive and one at Bestgate Road and General’s Highway — looming brick walls rise. Our capital is a bigger city now.

Westfield Annapolis opened a new 60-store wing last week, surpassing Arundel Mills as Anne Arundel’s county’s biggest shopping town.

Not long before, Park Place and the Severn Bank Building opened on Westgate Circle.

Out at the city’s east gateway at Rt. 2 and Forest Drive Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole grows bigger every day.

Compared to all this new bulk and height, we — our sidewalks, roads, cars and people — feel smaller. We’ve been used to a city of a different scale.

We’ve not grown bigger, but there are more of us — with many more still coming. We’re more diverse, more likely to have come here from other places, and we want more. We want what those other places have: a thoroughly modern hospital, our own Morton’s, our own McCormick and Schmick’s, our own Pottery Barn.

We’re awed by all the change around us. We’re impressed. We like the new choices, the new elegance, the new technology.

But we’re old enough to suspect we don’t get so big without paying a price.

Minutes after Westfield Annapolis cut its ribbon, shoppers charged in, crowding the new 240,000-square-foot wing — but not the existing stores. In Sephora, the one-stop makeup store, long lines kept cash registers ringing. Lots of people are paying, there.

But far bigger are the invisible prices we’re all paying as our familiar landscape abandons us, our roads fill up, our storm and sanitary sewers carry vast new volumes, our footprint on the land bears down deeper — and it all flows into our Chesapeake Bay.

Sure, to grow we’ve got to let go of who we’ve been. But our thinking and planning into the future haven’t gone far enough until we figure out how to manage the byproducts of all our fine and far-reaching growth.

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