Lew Holmes, the county's recreation watchdog, would love to see "a deer walk up and eat right out of someone's hand" if his dream of a state park right here in good old Anne Arundel County ever comes true.
About a year ago, people laughed at Big Lew when he went before the Fort Meade Coordinating Council to propose a 200-acre park including a public golf course, a softball complex, other ball fields and a state park-like atmosphere with trails and picnic areas.
The U.S. Army was unloading 9,000 acres of nature at Fort Meade, and Holmes was among those fighting to keep it from being turned over to developers who envisioned shopping malls and housing. Congressman Tom McMillen had Holmes appointed to the Fort Meade Coordinating Council to push for recreational use.
FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's "Sidelines" column, the time given for a meeting to discuss a public park for the Fort Meade area was incorrect.
The meeting will be conducted at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the O'Malley Senior Citizens Center.
"And when I suggested that we build a 200-acre park, most of them laughed at me and acted like I was crazy, Holmes said.
"But here we are a year later, and the county executive and rec and parks is starting to push hard to develop a chunk of thatland into a park in West County. A public golf course and softball complex are badly needed, and I'm not sure if the county wants to go that far, but they at least do want a park developed, something like Downs Park."
Holmes says the county now wants to develop only 70 ofthe 9,000 acres available at Fort Meade, but he's hoping to convinceofficials to go for 200 acres and a "Gateway Park."
That there iseven a chance of developing some of the land for recreation is amazing and a compliment to the efforts of McMillen, Holmes and others on the coordinating council who pushed for it.
Their strategy was forthe 9,000 acres to be taken over by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and they then would try to persuade the agency to give some of the land up for recreation. Now the fight is with the hunters and fishermen, who want the land to remain the way it is.
"It's great that 9,000 acres will be preserved, but what good is it with a fence around it?" asked Holmes, who is president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association and just this week was named by the county to head a support group to promote events at Joe Cannon baseball stadium.
"If we build a 200-acre park, they can still hunt and fish. I think the other part of the community needs to be served too. We desperatelyneed a public golf course and softball complex, and we could have itright next door to nature."
Holmes says environmentalists are also on the side of the hunters and fishermen and Holmes knows a tough fight is ahead.
"I have nothing against hunting and fishing, but that land should be more than game preserve, and a park would not adversely impact the environment," said Holmes.
Holmes hopes the county's recreation and parks people and local citizens will pack the O'Malley Senior Citizens Center in Odenton on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6.30 p.m. for a crucial meeting with the Fort Meade Coordinating Council.
The more people who show up and support the idea of a park, the more chance it could happen.
"People have got to come out in big numbers that night if they want to see this happen," said Holmes. "I've been to state parks in other states and seen deer walk over to people and eat right of their hands. I would love to one day see it happen here in this county."
Anyone wishing to get more information or to offer support can call Holmes at 760-4138.
Moving to other county sports news, the dream of North County High teacher/coach Tom Taylor and his Catonsville Community College women's soccer team to win anational championship ended yesterday at Mercer Community College inNew Jersey.
Taylor's team, loaded with Anne Arundel County products, dropped the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament final to second-seeded Meramec Community College of St. Louis, 4-0.
Catonsville's greatest season ever in women's soccer ended on a sour note, but for Taylor and the six county girls on the team, lots of great memories will ease the pain.
North County high grads Stephanie Meyer, Angela Farace and Coleen Morest, along with Lisa Bradt of Andover, Michelle Yingling of Northeast, and Tracy Hodski of Chesapeake all made valuable contributions to the team's 12-9-1 campaign.
Included in the victory total are unforgettable 1-0 wins. The firstbig 1-0 triumph came over Essex Community College for the Region XX title and berth in the eight-team Nationals.
Arriving at Mercer for the Nationals, Catonsville became the surprise team in the event bypulling off stunning 1-0 upsets of No. 3 seed Champlain of Vermont and host Mercer, the No. 5 seed.
Catonsville was 1-11 in Taylor's rookie season last fall, but the fiery coach turned the team around, winning more games in one season than the total number of victories since Catonsville started the program in 1982.
Taylor, a Glen Burnieresident, will now turn his attention to coaching the girls lacrosseteam at North County High this spring.