Group tries trail-blazing in wetlands Funding sought for Sawmill Creek GLEN BURNIE

September 29, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Third Avenue Park, an area behind Sawmill Creek Park, may become home to a small nature trail and observation area.

The Glen Burnie Improvement Association, which owns the land, is looking into putting a trail, boardwalk and observation deck in the park and over Sawmill Creek and its wetlands.

The trail would be about 250 yards long and tie in with two hiker-biker trails in the area. The county's B&A Trail extends from Glen Burnie to Annapolis; the state's trail, which will circle Baltimore-Washington International Airport, is under construction.

The new trail would start in Sawmill Creek Park and meander southeast over a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. easement, include a 100-foot span over the creek and wetlands, and cross Third Avenue Park, ending where Third Avenue goes into the park, said Chuck Kiessling, one of several GBIA members exploring the idea.

A nature observation deck would project out over the environmentally sensitive nontidal wetlands.

Don Gibson, also on the committee, said schools, community groups and individuals should have a way of observing the natural setting and its wildlife, as long as critical areas are preserved. Beavers, marsh birds and small fish live in the area.

"We're for it. It would help educate people as to what a marsh is," said Rick MacDonald, president of the Sawmill Creek Watershed Association.

Additionally, the trail would link Sawmill Creek Park to the neighborhoods around Third Avenue, which are cut off from the busy park due to the wetlands.

The trail's advocates hope that opening Third Avenue Park will reduce vandalism there because more people will use the park. A playground and horseshoe pits draw some visitors, but an area the GBIA had seeded a year ago after removing tennis courts was pitted with tire tracks only days later.

The association will add a $3,000 guard rail in October along the park to block vehicles from driving in, said Joseph Corcoran, who is also on the committee. The park is a little over 3 acres.

He estimated the trail would cost $250,000.

The 1,100-member association would seek a federal matching grant, Mr. Kiessling said. To further reduce the financial load, it would try to get other organizations, perhaps county government, businesses and individuals to donate labor and money toward the project.

The civic association would need to overcome two hurdles to see the project through, even if the membership and property owners approve and questions of liability and maintenance are resolved.

Building in the wetlands would require much design work and myriad federal, state and Anne Arundel County environmental permits, which would put construction a few years away, Mr. Corcoran said.

Jay Cuccia, assistant to the director of Recreation and Parks, said the department would probably help see the association through the local permits. However, the department has not been approached about this or a proposal for a second, smaller boardwalk on county land.

The association is considering a much smaller boardwalk and observation area behind the Pascal Senior Center, Mr. Kiessling said. It would connect the senior center on Dorsey Road with the state's hiker-biker trail, planned for behind the building.

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