Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond says she has been working on the Metro Centre project at Owings Mills Metro Station for 20 years, beginning from her time as an interested county citizen to her current elected office.
And Community College of Baltimore County President Sandra Kurtinitis said she was OK with growing old waiting for construction to start, but was grateful she did not have to grow "very, very old."
The two women were representative of the common refrain at the groundbreaking for the oft-delayed Owings Mills Metro Centre, where a $30 million, 120,000 square foot branch of the Baltimore County Public Library and CCBC Owings Mills Center will serve as the anchor building for one of Maryland's first transit-oriented developments.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking, said the area "has the potential to become a true center for community life" in Owings Mills, and local business leaders hoped the development would fill a major void.
"It's going to be a good stimulus for the area," said Brian L. DeLeonardo, newly-minted president of the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce.
"It's a lot of people that will be coming to this area, making it more of a community hub," DeLeonardo said. "One of the nice things about this is going to be…it really becomes part of the community."
The library will be the 19th and largest branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, with a 142,000-item collection prepared for opening day. Seventy computers will be available for use and wi-fi is installed throughout the building, said Jim Fish, director of the library system.
Students taking classes at the new CCBC Owings Mills Center, with 27 classrooms on the building's fourth-through-sixth floors, will be able to complete degrees without taking courses at other CCBC locations - a necessity in the college's current home on Painters Mill Road, Kurtinitis said.
"This has been a gleam in CCBC's eye for a really long time," she added.
The library and college will also share a community meeting room on the building's third floor that can be divided into three rooms if necessary, according to a county press release.
With bicycle storage, changing rooms, a green roof, high efficiency heating and air conditioning and low water-flow bathrooms, the building will meet LEED Silver standards for commercial construction, as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Construction should be complete by winter 2013, but officials said the library and community college center was only the start.
More than 500 housing units, a retail main street and 4,000 jobs are expected to be created by further development of the area, said Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley.
"We are transforming acres of surface parking adjacent to a transit station into a productive, vibrant and walkable mixed-use community," Swaim-Staley said.
The so-called Town Center will be "a lively mix of shops, offices, a hotel and apartments" said Howard Brown, speaking for developer Owings Mills Transit, LLC in a prepared statement. Brown called Thursday's groundbreaking "a major milestone in moving the Metro Centre project forward."
Numerous other state and county officials were also in attendance, including Maryland Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones, State Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, Del. Emmett Burns, Del. Jon S. Cardin, county Councilman Todd Huff and Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver.
Representatives for State Del. Dan K. Morhaim and U.S. Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Sen. Ben Cardin were present, as were representatives for Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston.