Needed: Decisive leadership with a 21st-century vision

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010

An open letter to the new Charles County commissioners:

Dear commissioners:

Congratulations on your recent electoral victories. It was a hard-fought win and the Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County welcomes both the returning commissioner and the new commissioners as the new leadership for Charles County.

There will be many difficult issues facing you in the next four years, from tight budgets, to state funding cuts, to a new comprehensive plan, to the cross-county connector and more.

We see a link among these issues, and a rare opportunity.

By growing smarter, we can both save taxpayers' money and increase prosperity. Smart growth means creating and revitalizing communities rather than subsidizing expensive sprawl.

Charles County is uniquely positioned for smart growth given its location, its many natural resources and its existing infrastructure. Waldorf is less than 30 miles from the nation's capital and the U.S. Navy facility in Indian Head boasts the county's largest source of high-tech jobs. Charles County encompasses some of the richest natural assets in the state including the Potomac River, Port Tobacco River, Zekiah Swamp and the Nanjemoy and Mattawoman creeks, to mention a few.

Running virtually down the middle of the county is a rail line offering a great transit opportunity. These are all features the county can capitalize on in promoting smart growth. The benefits will be numerous, from transit-oriented development to ecotourism.

But it will take decisive leadership with a 21st-century vision and commitment to weave these assets together.

SGACC is heartened to see new energy and ideas stemming from the election results.

We look forward to working with all the commissioners on creative solutions to generate sustainable growth, economic opportunity and environmental conservation for the prosperity of all present and future residents of Charles County.

Kim Coble, Annapolis

Jim Long, Accokeek

The writers, respectively, are writing on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Mattawoman Watershed Society. The Smarter Growth Alliance for Charles County is a coalition of 22 local and statewide conservation groups focused on protecting the Mattawoman Creek.