Prince George's County Council Chairman Jim Estepp's comments in his Aug. 22 Close to Home piece, "This Project Deserves a Green Light," cannot be left unanswered.
Contrary to his assertions, one thing that did not take place as part of last year's approval process of the National Harbor proposal was a useful, detailed traffic study. Mr. Estepp and his colleagues allowed the proposal to bypass or postpone a number of steps in the approval process. The study submitted as part of last year's approval is far from conclusive and detailed, but that was just fine with Mr. Estepp and his colleagues because they already had waived the requirement that adequate roads would serve the project.
Mr. Estepp also should be aware that the property was designated to become public parkland before it was dealt off to facilitate the failed Port America project. Part of that agreement mandated that public access be guaranteed for future development plans. But Mr. Estepp and his colleagues saw fit to give that away as well.
I find myself supportive of the concept, but I am ashamed at the way the county has handled it so far. The gutting of an already slippery approval process and reduction of environmental requirements and public participation are typical of this county's attitude toward development. This project will cause severe traffic problems with no solution on the horizon. And, thanks again to Mr. Estepp and his colleagues, no solution for traffic problems is written into the plan.
I find it especially galling that Mr. Estepp is championing this project, which is not in his district, over the strenuous objections of area residents and Ike Gourdine, the councilman who does represent the area. Yet Mr. Estepp proposes to tell us that National Harbor, with its fast-tracked and gutted review, is good for us.
Not long ago, Mr. Estepp went into orbit over a cellular phone tower that was erected in his district, which created neither traffic nor noise but that, he alleged, was (a) ugly and (b) shoved down his constituents' throats by outsiders.