Redskins plan citizen panel for stadium input

January 07, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The Washington Redskins plan to announce today the formation of a citizen advisory committee to help team officials communicate with local residents and incorporate their concerns into plans for the proposed 78,600-seat stadium in Laurel.

Team officials said last night that three co-chairmen have been selected to represent Anne Arundel, Howard and Prince George's counties, who will be given free rein to set up meetings and advise the professional football franchise.

Bob DiPietro, the co-chairman from Prince George's who has been working with the Redskins for several weeks, said the group will "ensure that all of the concerns and all of the benefits of this proposal are addressed in a responsible way."

This comes on the heels of several community-related initiatives the Redskins have started over the past month, including opening an office staffed by team representatives in downtown Laurel.

In setting up the advisory panel, called the Community Outreach Group, the Redskins said they made sure to choose a stadium opponent, Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association in Anne Arundel County, as one of the co-chairmen.

Mr. Smallwood was chosen at the urging of state Sen. Michael J. Wagner, a Democrat who represents the western part of Arundel where the stadium would be built. "I didn't want a rubber stamp in there," Mr. Wagner said last night.

Since the stadium was proposed last month, Mr. Smallwood has worried that local communities would be overrun with traffic but see few benefits.

Yesterday, he said he still is against the stadium, but added, "I want to keep an open mind."

"If the stadium is going to be built, I want to know what's best for my people," he said. "What's best is no stadium, but we don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot. They want to know what our main concern is. Our primary concern is traffic."

Mr. Smallwood said Redskins officials told him that team owner Jack Kent Cooke would pay for an independent traffic study of his choosing.

Walter E. Lynch, Mr. Cooke's project manager, said Mr. Smallwood has been invited to all meetings involving the Redskins traffic engineers, including those with state and county officials.

"If he doesn't feel comfortable with what he hears, we said we would pay for independent traffic engineers," Mr. Lynch said. "We aren't trying to hide anything."

Mr. Smallwood said he may ask a stadium opposition group, Citizens Against the Stadium, to select an engineer.

Jeanne Mignon, vice president of that organization, said last night she didn't have enough information about the proposal to comment.

But she did say appointment of the advisory group will not slow down her group's efforts to stop Mr. Cooke's plans.

"Our position is a consistent one," she said. "We don't want them here. We will not meet with Mr. Cooke's people for concessions."

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