Art Murals a Waste

I recently discovered that $62,000 is being used for art murals in Howard County and was authorized by the state as part of the Route 216 relocation project, which includes a six-lane highway. Drivers will be treated to four "artistically designed" noise barriers, consisting of birds such as geese, scheduled to be installed soon.

Yes, the noise barriers are unfortunately necessary, but art murals are a waste of scarce resources. I asked our government officials and the Maryland State Highway Administration to explain the rationale for including these murals. Funding could have been better spent on education (our teachers) or safety (our police or firefighters). This money could have funded approximately 1.5 starting salaries.

These murals are a first in Maryland. With the state and county facing difficult economic times, how can taxpayers have much sympathy when our elected officials unwisely spend our money? When I hear Maryland needs slot machines to help save our state from dire financial straits, I have to ask, why fund art murals? In June, I received a letter from the highway administration stating that the major reason for the murals was for "aesthetic purposes." Further, the agency said the murals represent a small percentage of the project's total cost.

If this is the best rationale for the murals, then there should not be any need to increase our property taxes or fees. Art murals are not necessities. Hopefully, they will be the last that we ever see in Maryland. Why can't barriers be covered with some type of climbing vine, such as ivy, as you see on the Beltway? Funding priorities need to be reevaluated.

Stuart M. Kohn