High on Hoyer

I am writing in response to Jon W. Robinson's attack of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and all the other local leaders who support the National Harbor project. In fact, one of the most impressive things about National Harbor is the wide range of support from elected officials on our local, state and national level. This broad-based support shows that the National Harbor project is desired by most of the folks in Prince George's County.

I am proud of the manner in which Steny Hoyer represents the people of our district. We need leaders who will stand up for the rights of Prince Georgians and make wise decisions about the future of our county. The key issue involved in exempting the National Harbor project from National Capital Planning Commission oversight is the ability of Prince George's County residents to run our own county without outside interference from interests in the state of Virginia and the federal government.

The environmental laws of Maryland and Prince George's County are among the strongest in the nation. Our local elected leaders, Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) and the County Council are all strongly committed to both the preservation of the environment and a political process that provides abundant opportunity for citizen input. There is simply no need to have the federal government looking over the shoulders of our leaders.

Instead of being a "bailout for billionaires," Rep. Hoyer's legislation is an affirmation of the integrity of the local decision-making. It is nothing more than that. The National Harbor project still must comply with all the county, state and federal environmental laws.

I am so grateful that we have leaders like Rep. Hoyer who fight for the needs of all the residents of his district and not just listen to a small number of extremists.

Nathaniel K. Tutt II

President, South County

Economic Development Association

Fort Washington

A bill that would clear the way for National Harbor to be built has been approved by Congress.

Citizens Seek Input

On Nov. 15, during a meeting of the Hyattsville City Council, I presented a letter to Mayor Robert W. Armentrout and the council. In it, more than 140 Hyattsville residents, from all the city's wards, asked for a voice in the future of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's Hamilton Street office building.

The WSSC is considering selling this historically significant building to a developer, who has proposed converting it into housing for low-to-moderate-income seniors. The idea has merit but might not represent the best use for the building, we believe.

We asked the mayor and council to appoint a citizen advisory committee to consider other uses for the WSSC property and report its findings. Citizen comment is crucial to the city's decision to honor or reject the developer's request that Hyattsville formally support the project.

At the Nov. 15 meeting, the mayor and council took steps toward creating the citizen advisory committee, and we applaud that action. We look forward to the panel's deliberations and its recommendations on the best use of the WSSC building.

We urge city leaders to send the WSSC a letter asking that the agency postpone its sale of the Hamilton Street building until the city has acted upon the citizen advisory committee's report. And second, we ask that the city make the appointment of a planning committee a priority.

We hope the mayor and City Council members remain true to goals they identified this past summer, including "economic development with a special focus on education and the arts." We believe the creation of a citizen advisory committee on the future of the WSSC building is an important step toward reaching these goals.

Carl Graziano

Hyattsville

Quality of Life

About a year ago, we purchased a home in the Simmons Acres subdivision of Accokeek, moving from a condominium in Suitland. We love our house, our neighbors and our community. We especially enjoy the woods (which was a specific request to the builder: "show us a lot that backs onto trees"). While the drive between Accokeek and downtown D.C. is quite different from the drive to and from Suitland, we have weathered it well. As a matter of fact, the current traffic problems occur at the Suitland Parkway/295 area, not Indian Head Highway (Route 210).

That is subject to change with the proposed building of a "super" Wal-Mart at the intersection of Routes 210 and 228 in Accokeek. When we purchased our home, the lack of congestion was an important factor. Our condominium in Suitland faced Branch Avenue and the Marlow Heights Shopping Center. The sirens of emergency vehicles at all times of the day and night, not to mention the ever-present helicopters overhead rattling windows, were a big reason we moved so far out. While Route 228 does need to be widened at the intersection with 210 (because the two lanes that turn left off 210 onto 228 merge into one lane, which is a little ridiculous), putting a large store of any kind there would only make traffic worse, especially in the evening.

There are many, many residents of the Accokeek/Fort Washington area who do not want Route 210 to turn into another Route 301--too many stores, businesses, traffic lights and traffic congestion. The few strip malls on 210 could be improved by improving the stores that are in them. There's an old Hechinger building that is sitting idle in the mall at Swann Road. Why not put the Wal-Mart there? That would also bring increased business to the stores that are there by bringing people to that mall. There's a parking lot there, and no trees would be destroyed to make way for it.

Another of the great benefits of the Accokeek area is that the houses sit back off of Indian Head Highway, and there are still lots of trees to buffer any traffic noise. The trees along 210 serve an ecological purpose as well: We can actually feel the temperature cool down as we drive down Route 210 toward home.

One aspect of this play we don't understand is the need for a Wal-Mart so close to the one that currently exists in Waldorf. We understand from various sources that there's also one planned for La Plata. We did not pay over $200,000 for our home to have an albatross dropped on the corner.

In our opinion, a Wal-Mart at that location would not add to the quality of life for the residents of the Accokeek/Fort Washington corridor. Why not a nice sit-down family-style restaurant, or a real department store, such as Hecht's, Wards, Penney's or Sears, or even something upscale such as Macy's?

Michelle and Anthony Brown

Accokeek

The Prince George's Extra welcomes Letters to the Editor. Fax to 301-952-1397, e-mail to pgextra@washpost.com or write to Letters to the Editor, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Please include your place of residence and a daytime phone. Letters may be edited.