West County Park Sought On Federal Land

February 21, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

The county Recreation and Parks Department wants $50,000 for a studyto look at using federally owned land in the Fort Meade area for a county park.

Jack Keene, chief of construction projects for the department, told the Planning Advisory Board yesterday that the county hopes to establish a park in West County similar to Quiet Waters or Downs Park. He said using federal land would save acquisition costs.

The county has spent months looking for surplus land for a park to serve the rapidly growing West County communities.

But any finaldecision on a Fort Meade park will be made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after it reviews a proposal from the county.

Keene, testifying on behalf of his department's capital budget request for the 1992-1993 fiscal year, said the study would be a first step. The county and the Fish and Wildlife Service could jointly operate park facilities at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, near Fort Meade, he said.

He said federal wildlife officials "appear to be receptiveto the idea, as long as it doesn't infringe on their main mission, which is wildlife research."

Joe McCann, county recreation and parks director, said with three large planned communities in the works, the West County corridor's population is expected to grow 46 percent in 10 years.

McCann, who is expected to leave his post by the end of next month, also told the board yesterday he would like to see the county require developers to set aside 20 percent of the total acreage of their development for recreational uses. With such a requirement, the county would avoid the costs of acquiring land in areas like the Odenton-Fort Meade corridor, where rapid growth has intensified theneed for parks.

Developers are now required to set aside a percentage of land for recreation, but McCann said the requirements allow them to donate small, separate parcels that are inadequate for recreational use. He said they should be required to donate one large piece of land.

"I know this would be controversial, and it would have some opposition, but I think it would be worth it," he said.

Park officials yesterday also requested $65,000 to help pay for a $130,000 proposed expansion of the visitor's center at Jug Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Keene said the project would expand the center's exhibit area by 1,300 square feet and would be funded with a $65,000 matching grant from the state.

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