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That Harford County government is spending at least $1.3 million to make significant road improvements in the vicinity of the new Red Pump Elementary School north of Bel Air should come as no surprise to readers of The Aegis.

We’ve noted before in this space that there was never any question in our minds that County Councilman Richard Slutzky deliberately misled the citizens of Harford County about the relative costs of the Red Pump site in comparison with another elementary school site off Schucks Road in the Campus Hills area. He did so in order to buttress his argument that the Red Pump site was more cost effective than the Schucks Road site in order to convince the rest of the council to go along with his demand of school officials that the Red Pump school be built immediately. The ploy obviously succeeded.

Slutzky’s motivation for this gambit remains a subject of speculation, but his actions certainly minted him as the person all future school locations will have to go through as long as he’s sitting on the council, which is going to be for a minimum of four more years. And make no mistake about this, a lot of people have a lot at stake when such decisions are made, not the least of them being developers, home builders, home owners, home buyers, children and the people who run the school system. That’s a lot of power over a lot of people’s well-being.

Certainly we aren’t quarreling with the county’s decision to build a roundabout to connect the main entrance to the new school with Red Pump Road, nor are we questioning the need for more sidewalks along Vale Road or the need for widening the road in some places and for improving the intersection with Route 924 to accommodate the increased school bus and other traffic. Upward of $40 million will be invested in this new school and it would be folly to think the roads serving it shouldn’t be made as safe as possible for students and the general public who will be affected by the school. But all this should have been clear two years ago when the school site choice was made, clear to everyone it seems except Slutzky.

Under Slutzky math of his report to the council, which favored Red Pump, no more than $350,000 supposedly was needed for road improvements, about $1 million less than what the county is spending, and that assumes the current Vale Road improvements will be all that is spent on infrastructure before the school opens next summer. Somehow we have a hard time believing we’ve seen the last of this kind of work, given the condition of other roads in the vicinity of the school.

So the obvious question should be if Slutzky math was fuzzy on the infrastructure costs of Red Pump versus the other site, how reliable is Slutzky’s claim that building at Red Pump will alleviate the overcrowding at the Prospect Mill school and other Bel Air area schools, most of which are closer to the Schucks Road site? Not much, we suspect.

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