Now that the good citizens of Roland Park have recovered from the adrenalin rush of pummeling Keswick for proposing a retirement community on the old Baltimore Country Club land, perhaps one or more heroes of the Keswick uprising can turn their attention to the matter of Roland Park’s self image. Consider a special Roland Park edition to all those standard fair bumper stickers — fight global warming, think global, act local and such — on display among vehicles idling, double parked, in front of the local Eddie’s supermarket. The Roland Park edition could read, perhaps, “Smart Growth is Not the Answer,” or maybe “Smart Growth: not smart enough for Roland Park.” Best yet: “Smart Growth: we have met the enemy, and it is us”
By the standards of smart growth principles, a retirement community is a remarkably good use of this property. It’s good for current Roland Park residents who would prefer to stay in the neighborhood when the time comes to downsize from a single family home. It’s good for shops and other institutions in the area, which will enjoy enhanced patronage, including an appetite for volunteer work, from educated, affluent retirees with time on their hands. It’s good for the city because of the little additional public infrastructure required and because of additional tax revenues (whether or not the property will be property tax exempt). And it’s good for the many city residents who can’t compete for jobs at retirement communities located in the outer reaches of Baltimore County, but who will be able to find employment there.
It’s a remarkably good use, at a remarkably small cost. The cost to Roland Park residents is to let go of the idea that private land can be appropriated, without compensation, as a preserve for the aesthetic and sentimental needs of its neighbors.