Redskins to report on stadium impact in 2 weeks

December 31, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

A Washington Redskins official said last night that over the next two weeks the team will present to the state Senate and Laurel residents impact reports of the team's proposed new stadium on traffic, infrastructure and the local economy.

And on Monday, the National Football League franchise will open an office on Laurel's historic Main Street that will be staffed daily by three team officials who will field questions from the public concerning the proposed stadium.

"We plan to present the whole concept," promised Walter Lynch, project manager for Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

Redskins officials have attended two meetings earlier this month in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties that were dominated by residents opposed to the proposed $160 million ** stadium, seating 78,600, that would be built next to Laurel Race Course.

Mr. Lynch fielded questions from residents for an hour last night at Something Special, an espresso bar and antique shop on Main Street in Laurel. The program was taped by Laurel Cable TV, which plans to air it on Monday.

After the meeting Mr. Lynch played down the importance of the presentation planned for Maryland senators, saying it would be one of many presentations over the next two weeks at which impact reports and design plans will be released. Such documents "will be released as we go along," he said.

He said some studies may be completed before the Senate presentation, and these could be in the hands of residents during some of the 20 meetings team officials have scheduled with civic groups and others over the next 10 days.

Alan Rifkin, a lawyer negotiating the 55-acre land deal between the Redskins and Joseph A. De Francis, president and chief executive officer of Laurel Race Course, said all studies and reports will be released to the public as soon as they are completed.

"We expect these reports to be a product of discussion," said Mr. Rifkin, adding that team officials spent yesterday in Laurel and got positive feedback from residents.

"We need community involvement," he said.

Mr. Lynch said residents will be able to get information on the proposed stadium at the team's Laurel office.

"This office will allow for constant discussion between the community and the Redskins as this process moves forward," Mr. Rifkin added.

Yesterday's announcement came as residents from the Greater Laurel area packed the small coffee shop and peppered Mr. Lynch with questions on how the proposed stadium will impact their neighborhoods.

"My biggest concern is with the traffic," said Greg Hollinsworth, a Laurel resident who is against the stadium. "I foresee a big flood of traffic coming to town. My concern is what will happen when a lot of people drive through our neighborhoods."

Mr. Lynch repeated earlier statements that stadium lots can be emptied within an hour after a game ends.

"We have the same concerns you have," he said. "We do not want our fans sitting in traffic any more than you want to be sitting in traffic. We hope they have a good experience leaving, because otherwise they won't come back."

Several residents supported the proposed stadium, including Gary Lane who wore a yellow "Laurel Redskins" sweat shirt. He asked Mr. Lynch to prove to residents that a stadium can have a positive impact, in light of many opponents charging that it will lower property values.

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