Supporters of a proposed 18-hole public golf course on Fort Smallwood Road will not be getting any help from Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland -- at least not for a while.
Holland, R-Pasadena, said Monday that he's recommending the site -- a 153-acre former horse farm being purchased by the county for $1.7 million -- be left as open space, with nary a hiking trail nor picnic bench to mar it.
"The county is in a financial crunch," Holland said. "And I'm nottoo sure at this point how many people want a golf course there."
But county parks officials, state legislators and community leaders say there is plenty of support for the golf course.
"To people in this district, the golf course was always a priority," said Darlene Schepleng, a Rock Creek activist who lives near the horse farm.
Former Linthicum Councilman Theodore J. Sophocleus said Holland unfairlymade the golf course a campaign issue in his race against former Councilman Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern, who had lobbied the county since 1986 to buy the horse farm.
"He used it against Buddy in the campaign, saying it was a waste of taxpayers' money and was irresponsible," Sophocleus said. "But the key was keeping the property as open space (rather than allowing it to be developed), and that was done by Mr. Ahern."
The property owner, Irvin Polashuk, planned to build a 30-home subdivision as recently as last spring -- a plan vehemently opposed by residents.
Holland said the golf course idea went as far as it did only because people found it more acceptable than a housing development. "I have heard nothing" from golf course supporters, he said, noting that he made his position clear at a Greater Pasadena Council meeting last month.
"He told us it was a pipe dream and would never happen," said Schepleng, who attended that meeting. "I think Councilman Holland needs to talk to his constituents and get their feelings before he starts making up his mind."
On Monday, Holland denied he opposes a golf course being built on the horse farm "if the needis there and if the county is in a position to pay for it."
County recreation and parks officials and District 31 lawmakers agree thatbuying the land -- which includes a spoil site for the long-awaited Rock Creek dredging -- is the top priority this year. State legislators say they will seek state Program Open Space money to buy the farm during the General Assembly session, which begins today.
They alsoagree that with the state and county governments facing budget crises, this is not the year to build a golf course, which could cost up to $4.5 million.
However, Sen. Philip Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, saidstate legislators remain committed to the golf course. As for leaving the horse farm exactly as it is, "there are recreational needs. A golf course has a broad base of support."
County Parks Administrator William Rinehart said a marketing study performed last year showed the county needs four to five new golf courses north of Severna Park.
Rinehart said he doubted the county would leave the horse farm asit is, especially since the land is not particularly valuable. "It'smostly open old farmland with second growth," he said. And trespassers have been dumping on the site.
"I don't see spending $1.7 million and then not having any public uses," Rinehart said. "What's accomplished if we just let it sit?"