It isn't easy finding places to play in Crofton.
Whether it's a bunch of friends looking to play softball at a weekend outing or a youth league trying to get a season in, amateur athletes are having a tough time getting in some competitive exercise.
That worries Ed Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Associationand an avid football fan, youth league coach and college referee. Heand the Crofton Athletic Council are working with the county to finda solution.
But as more and more people move into the area -- notjust Crofton, but all of West County -- the burden to find enough space for parks gets more complicated.
"The key is going to find some open tracts of land in the western part of the county," said Jay Cuccia, assistant director of the county Recreations and Parks Department.
Dosek said he has found some in the Crofton triangle, the special tax district bordered by routes 3, 424 and 450. But getting them turned into baseball diamonds and football fields means negotiating.
What Dosek would like to do is build fields on land slated for future schools. One such site is Cardinal Field, located behind the Crofton Middle School. The Board of Education owns the property and plansto build a middle school there eventually.
But Dosek said that could be 10 years away. "We are hoping that in the meantime, it could be developed and used as a park or an athletic field," he said. "What is there is very poorly taken care of. Security is terrible. It is a hangout for partying."
The other possibility, Dosek said, is making a park out of land next to the Crofton Meadows Elementary School. "If it's usable, it ought to be developed."
Cuccia said developing land slated for schools may not be the best answer. "If we do that, we'll have holy hell to deal with when it's time to build the school. Sometimes, the temporary solution only gets you in more trouble."
The Crofton Athletic Council has lobbied both the Board of Education and the Recreation and Parks Department. It is now writing a "needs paper" to show officials demographics and how much such fields would be used.
Inside the triangle, Crofton has only one baseball field -- not including the fields located at schools. That is at Hardy Field, a park owned by Crofton and located behind the elementary school onDuke of Kent Street.
Dosek said it is difficult for people to useschool fields because they must compete with school-sponsored athletics. He also said principals are sometimes reluctant to give permission for the general public to use them.
"Maybe that's the way it should be," he said. "But in times past, it has put the Crofton Athletic Council at odds with the school principals."
Recreation and Parks also would like to turn part of the surplus Fort Meade land now in the hands of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department into a West Countypark.
Cuccia said not just the Crofton area is suffering. He cited statistics showing the West County population could increase by 46 percent in the next eight years. "It's unbelievable," he said.