Morgan Run Expansion Again Put On Back Burner

Public Works Board Deletes Environmental Area From Today's Agenda

September 25, 1991|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Staff writer

The saga of the Morgan Run Natural Environment Area expansion has been delayed again.

County officials had been scheduled to meet withthe state Board of Public Works in Annapolis today to lobby for purchase of the adjacent Greenway Gardens property, but the board yesterday removed discussion of the purchase from the agenda.

Meanwhile, the regular Recreation and Parks Board meeting tonightwill include debate about scheduling at the Carroll County Sports Complex north of Westminster and requests for self-help projects by recreation councils.

Neither Commissioner President Donald I. Dell, who was scheduled to attend the Annapolis meeting, or a Department of Natural Resources official knew why the Greenway Gardens purchase hadbeen taken off the agenda, but both said it has tentatively been rescheduled within the next two weeks.

Dell, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy and John P. Little, the county's recreation and parks director, were to attend the meeting to lobby for state expansion of Morgan Run,between Westminster and Eldersburg. The Greenway Gardens purchase has been delayed several times because of the economy and concerns by aboard member about the condition of buildings on the site.

Dell said he is concerned about asking the state to buy recreation land with highway construction lagging and employees facing layoffs because of the economy, but said the need to expand Morgan Run is important.

"It has a lot of potential," Dell said of the Greenway Gardens property. "The most critical thing about it is the Morgan Run area. If itwasn't for that, I wouldn't want (Greenway Gardens)."

The Board of Public Works considered the purchase at a meeting in early August, but state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein tabled the purchase until the Department of Natural Resources inspects buildings on the property.If the Board of Public Works approves the deal, the state will offer$450,000 for the 27-acre site.

But Dottie de Wilde, owner of Greenway Gardens, has set the price at $525,000 after cuts in the ProjectOpen Space budget in fiscal 1991 delayed the state's purchase plans by a year.

The Wednesday night parks board meeting at 7:30 in the Carroll County Education Center on Center Street, could be somewhat controversial.

Scheduling at the sports complex has been difficult almost since the park opened in the spring of 1989. The Charles Carroll Recreation Council's baseball and softball programs and the Carroll County Men's Softball League both use the five-diamond complex in the spring and early summer.

Little said representatives from the rec council and the men's league will be at tonight's meeting with scheduling concerns. He noted that instead of thanks from user groups, his department has taken heat regarding the scheduling problems.

"There are a lot of other groups that would like to be in the sports complex as well," Little said.

Little also told the commissioners his office soon will request bids from potential operators of the concession stand at the complex. Originally, the county was to hire someone to run the stand to help generate revenue, but the county's hiring freeze left private contractors as the only available route.

"I'd like to see our own people run it," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said Monday.

Little also lobbied the commissioners for as much money aspossible for self-help programs, under which volunteer groups donatelabor and some money to small projects, while the county supplies money for most materials.

Until last year, the $50,000 or $60,000 usually budgeted for such programs easily covered the requests, made bycommunity groups each September and February. But with several projects deferred from last February until the current budget year began in July, the kitty is down to about $34,000, and requests for county money total nearly $43,000.

And, Dell hinted that the commissionerscould have to make cuts in the $34,000 budget.

"My position is, we're down to bare bones," he said. "Are we going to do these kinds ofprojects, or are we going to spend the money to build and repair roads?"

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