County Aims To Put Linear Parks Plan On Drawing Board

March 01, 1992|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Staff writer

County planners soon hope to mark locations for a series of linear parks in Carroll.

The linear parks would follow stream beds, railroad rights of way and other areas for hiking, biking and equestrian trails and passive open space, county planner Steve Horn told the county Recreation and Parks Board Wednesday night. The planning office hasrequested a consultant study to identify possible linear park -- or greenway -- sites around the county.

Several years ago the Department of Recreation and Parks started planning a linear park connecting Bennett Cerf Park and the Westminster Community Pond.

The state, meanwhile, has discussed a linear park along the Patapsco River which, in Carroll, would connect Mount Airy and Sykesville.

Though land acquisition for such parks may takemany years, Horn said mapping out a system now would help the county

acquire land when developments are being built. The county could have developers set aside appropriate land as part of the open-space requirement, while other land could be acquired through easements or donations to a land trust.

"We're doing something new this year," Horn told parks board members. "We're trying to cooperate with the Department of Recreation and Parks."

Relations between the two departments and their boards have been strained in recent years because ofcapital budget cuts recommended by the Planning Commission.

Horn said the linear parks study would be done by consultants because of staff shortages in the county planning office. He

added that the study is not optional, because developing a linear park system is a state mandate.

In other action:

* The board is exploring the possibility of using non-school personnel to help keep educational facilities open for weekend recreational use. The Board of Education has said it is cutting overtime for custodial workers starting in April.

Custodians are paid overtime to open school buildings on weekends forrec programs, said John Little, the recreation and parks director. Most programs will be moving outdoors in April, so the immediate effect on sports programs will be minimal, he said. But other recreation programs, including aerobics, operate indoors all year.

Jeff Degitz, chief of recreation for the department, noted that money to keep schools open for rec programs in Baltimore County comes out of the Recreation and Parks budget, and coordinators from that department are responsible for securing facilities used by rec groups.

* County budget officials have indicated that just one of five requested capital projects likely will be approved for fiscal 1993, which begins in July, said Little. About $650,000 will be allocated for grading and seeding of a new sports complex in the Sykesville area if the commissioners approve the capital spending plan.

That park would replace several private baseball diamonds, used by the Sykesville youth baseball program, that will be removed when O'Brecht Road is redesigned.

* Assistant Director Richard Soisson said the agency will submit an operating budget request for fiscal 1993 that is the same or perhaps a little less than the 1992 revised budget of $2.031 million. The working budget presented to the board showed a planned 3.6 percent budget increase, but Soisson said a change in the method of calculating moneypaid to wineries at the wine festival and an increase in fees for using lighted fields at the Sports Complex would all but eliminate the need for a budget increase.

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