Community pressure changes plans for vacant lot Citizens oppose basketball court CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

January 04, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

A little less than an acre of open space in Westminster's Whispering Meadows subdivision may become a tot lot, a miniature park -- or something else.

Whatever it becomes will be the result of community members and city planners working together to create an open space plan that will make the residents happier than the basketball court the developers originally proposed.

Residents of Whispering Meadows Drive, Mountain Laurel and Field Lily Courts, whose homes surround the open space, petitioned the city government last summer to have it cleared of debris and developed differently than planned.

The 15 families who signed the petition opposed developers Samuel R. Rothblum and Joseph A. Myers' plan to install a half-court basketball court in the open space, though fewer residents objected to a proposed tot lot that would have shared the site.

"Excessive noise, loitering and use of foul language have been noted at the basketball courts at Jaycee Park. Installation of another court will bring that situation into our backyards," the petition said.

The petition also said a tot lot would duplicate the play area at the Jaycee Park in The Greens subdivision, which adjoins the Whispering Meadows open space.

Field Lily Court resident David Stevenson drafted and circulated the petition after talking with neighbors. Mr. Stevenson said he did not want to be identified as the leader of the group, which has no formal organization or spokesman.

"There was no community input [initially] because the community had not been developed," said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works.

The open space was filled with construction trash and debris last summer, the petition said. The developers now have cleared away the debris, graded and seeded the space in grass.

"That space over there looked terrible," said Whispering Meadows Drive resident Julia Wobbeking. She said she would like to see "something like a little park" on the site, perhaps benches and a walkway that would allow people to cross to the adjacent Jaycees Park.

Mrs. Wobbeking said she did not think a tot lot on the site would be a good idea because of the proximity to Whispering Meadows Drive.

"If they were little children [playing there], they'd probably run out into the street," she said.

Field Lily Court resident Russell F. Raines favors a tot lot, but opposes a basketball court.

"All night long, bouncing that ball around is not one of my favorite things," he said.

His sister in-law, Whispering Meadows Drive resident Sandra Raines, said she, too, thinks that a tot lot would be a good use of the space, but that a basketball court could generate too much noise.

Mr. Beyard said he hopes to meet with the Whispering Meadows residents soon to devise a plan for the open space.

He first had to reach an agreement with Mr. Rothblum, president of Whispering Meadows Partnership, and Mr. Myers, who bought and developed the section containing the open space. The city now has a deed to the property and $15,000 donated by the developers to cover the estimated cost of developing the area.

The planning director said the change in plans for the open space is not unusual.

"These things come up all the time where you have to work with the community," he said.

The planning staff worked with residents of Furnace Hills subdivision last year to move a tot lot to an area the community preferred, he said.

Whispering Meadows is a subdivision of 111 single-family houses on a 43.8-acre tract off Uniontown Road.

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