Baltimore may let land go to cut costs PASADENA


December 31, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Larry Velten and his buddies went fishing for a boat ramp and nearly landed a park.

Mr. Velten, a member of the Pasadena Sportfishing Group, has been urging the state Department of Natural Resources for more than a year to build a ramp at Fort Smallwood Park on the Patapsco River.

Federal and state grants could pay for the ramp's construction. But state officials said either Anne Arundel County or Baltimore city, which owns the 100-acre park at the end of Fort Smallwood Road, must finance its maintenance and operation.

Baltimore officials said they are not interested in the added expense of a boat ramp. In fact, they suggested that the county take responsibility not only for the boat ramp, but the park as well.

"We spend money on parks located within our jurisdiction," Alma Bell, a city spokeswoman said yesterday. "We do not have any opposition to a boat ramp being built there, but we do not consider it a priority."

The city first considered turning the park over to the county as a cost-cutting measure two years ago, Ms. Bell said. The idea resurfaced during a meeting last week among Mr. Velten, city, county and DNR officials but it should not be considered a formal proposal, she said.

"It makes sense. It's located in the county," said State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, who represents the Pasadena group and has pushed for the ramp. "If they are willing to give it to us, it might be worth it."

Jay Cuccia, a spokesman for the county Department of Recreation and Parks, added: "People automatically assume that one of our parks anyway since it is physically in the county."

But Mr. Cuccia confirmed the county has not received a formal offer from the city. He also was unsure if the county could afford the added maintenance costs.

Because of the tax cap adopted by voters in November and other budget constraints, Mr. Cuccia said, "we're going to have a hard time maintaining what facilities we have now without taking on another regional-sized park."

Mr. Velten hopes the new ramp does not get lost in a debate over the park. Anne Arundel has only two public boat ramps -- at Sandy Point State Park and Annapolis' Truxton Park.

DNR Secretary Torrey Brown agreed. The county needs more boat ramps "in light of the high number of registered boaters located in the county," he said in a Nov. 9 letter to Mr. Velten.

Mr. Brown also noted that negotiations between the city and the county as well as designing the new ramp may take several years.

"Surely, the park is suitable for a boat ramp," Mr. Cuccia said. "The question is, who is going to be ultimately responsible."

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