Ten years ago this month, the county broke ground on Kinder Park. The master plan for the old 237-acre farm that County Executive Robert Pascal purchased for $1.9 million included what is now the 40-acre Harvey Garcelon Sports Complex as well as nature trails, picnic areas, pavilions and a large model farm.
But the trails, picnic areas, pavilions and model farm never materialized, as the money for big parksprojects dried up with the '80s. Many of the old barns and silos arecollapsing into ruins and "No Trespassing" signs still block access to much of the public land.
Now some people in Severna Park are asking what, if anything, will be done with the remaining 150 acres of public land.
"Kinder Park poses one of the greatest dangers and greatest opportunities for the quality of life in Severna Park," Ted Cheffey said at a recent meeting of the Greater Severna Park Council.
Cheffey, chairman of the council's Recreation and Parks committee, says residents, nature lovers and youth sports fans must pressure parks officials into devising a long-term plan for the property. Otherwise, he says, they may lose section after section to non-recreational purposes.
"The danger isthat going into lean periods, the county might decide that instead of buying a new facility, it will decide to use what it has and use 50acres for snow plows, 20 acres for warehouses and 50 acres for whatever other purpose," Cheffey said.
County Parks director Joseph McCann said he would fight any non-recreational encroachment. But he hesitated when asked when citizens might be able to use the park and what kinds of projects they might see.
"I'm not even going to speculate on that," McCann said. "Yes, the Severna Park area sorely needs a countywide park, but for now we're still perceived as a non-essentialservice and the worst thing that could happen to Kinder would be to piecemeal and hodgepodge it together without a master plan."
McCann said he would welcome and encourage the community to come forward with suggestions.
The Green Hornets youth sports boosters already have approached him about building more baseball and multipurpose fields.
"We've discussed it with Joe McCann a number of times," Green Hornet board member Joe Gillespie said. "We could certainly use some more fields. Some of the ones we have are turning to dirt and need tobe rotated out for a year."
If he could demonstrate widespread political support for doing something with the 150 fallow acres, McCannsaid, he would be able to get some money to draw up a master plan that might not go into effect in less than five or six years.
Without organized community support, McCann said, the project will remain on the back burners.