The Metro public forum Monday night on where to put the Greenbelt 'E' route turned out instead to be a public voice of displeasure at the idea of Metro coming into Prince George's County at all.
About 80 persons heard members of the "E" Route. Corridor Task Force present six choices for the Metro route in the Greenbelt area. The task force wanted public reaction before continuing further study.
The alternatives - including combinations of bus, light rail (trolley), commuter rail along the B & O line and the Metro subway - were requested by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA).
However, most people speaking at the forum held on the University of Maryland campus in College Park ignored the alternatives and just complained about the cost and environmental and community impact of Metro.
Lou Stengard, a councilmember from College Park, said, "The Metro system becomes more costly as it moves out into the suburbs. The destruction or severe alteration of neighborhoods would be evident. The B&O railroad already exists and connection with surface lines and commuter rail through a minibus system would be better than building Metro."
"This is an albatross to the people in prince George's County," said William Redding of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Metroline. "It will bankrupt the county and the state."
Specific information about the cost and the direct effect on the community created by each alternative was requested by several speakers.
"We are against something being shoved down our throats when we don't know the facts," said one speaker.
Frank Derro, a task force member from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, explained that cost and environmental impact analyses had not been completed for the alternatives because of a hurried deadline set by UMTA. "But we do know that Metro triggers off whatever potential there is in an area."
Mildred Harkness, a councilmember from Hyattsville, expressed concern over several atternatives for a Hyattsville station and the overall effect of Metro in the community. "We have been a supporter of Metro all along. If this corridor is ignored, it could lead to the stagnation of the whole community."
Most speaker supported a Fort Totten terminus and expanded B&O rail service down the right side of the Greenbelt corridor. Currently the B&O provides a commuter service with stops at Berwyn, College Park, Riverdale and Hyattsville. The Maryland Department of Transportation would begin negotiations for upgrading and increasing the service along the line if funds could be appropriated from UMTA.
Often comments against Metro ran alont age lines, as one speaker pointed out. "No offense to the aged who want a nice community to retire to. But the younger people will be paying a lot longer for this. We are the ones who will face the problems of transportation," said Robert Hedges of College park Woods.
The results of the Metro public forum were discussed on Tuesday at the prince George's County Council.
Warren Kahle, council planning coordinator, cited modifications in two route alternatives as a result of citizen comment. The new alternatives will include a "null alterantive," which would project what would happen to transportation in the county if Metro facilities were not built.
The alternatives will now be tested for operating costs, ridership attraction, environmental impact and energy consumption, neighborhood disruption and displacement and job creation before they are again presented in a public forum in mid-May.