Stadium opponents mildly mollified by Redskins' proposed shift westward

January 23, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Although residents of two communities near the proposed Washington Redskins stadium in Laurel still don't want a sports complex in their back yard, those who met with team officials last week at least were pleased by the decision to move the stadium a little to the west.

"We still don't want the stadium, obviously, but I do feel that if they are going to build it, at least it can be moved farther away from residential areas," said Laura Waters, president of the Laurel Highlands Homeowner Association.

Moving the proposed 78,600-seat stadium 1,700 feet west places it farther from the Laurel Highlands townhouse community and from Russett, a new development under construction.

FTC The team also plans to install a tree buffer and fence between a parking lot and Laurel Highlands, which is off Whiskey Bottom Road near Bacontown.

"That should alleviate some of the fear the landowners have about people going through their yards trying to get to the stadium," said Ms. Waters, who owns houses in both developments.

Thursday, team owner Jack Kent Cooke signed an agreement with Laurel Race Course owner Joseph A. De Francis to buy 100 acres owned by the track as a site for the team's proposed $160 million stadium.

The parcel is nearly double the 55 acres Redskins officials said they were considering last month. The extra land became necessary when the team decided to move the stadium west and buy additional property for parking.

Few details of the agreement, including the sale price and the parcel's boundaries. were released. Laurel Race Course sits on 363 acres.

Mr. De Francis said several horse stables and barns now in Anne Arundel will be moved to the Howard County side of the property to make room for the stadium.

Fourteen residents from Russett attended the closed meeting with Redskins project manager Walter E. Lynch, who has been attending such small gatherings almost daily for several weeks.

"A lot of what I said was, 'There are a lot of rumors, and we're just trying to keep out the rumors and deal with facts,' " Mr. Lynch said.

Mr. Lynch and the Redskins' lobbyist, Alan M. Rifkin, met Friday morning with Anne Arundel County's statehouse delegation. But that meeting was cut short when the legislature went into session. Redskins officials are scheduled to return to answer questions from the delegation next Friday.

The long-awaited land purchase agreement should give Mr. Cooke all the property he needs to build the stadium and provide parking for 23,000 cars. Last month, he bought 25 acres between the stadium site and Route 198 for $2.1 million.

Some of the land includes existing track parking lots. The stadium and track will share the lots; there will be no horse racing on game days.

The agreement also includes a strip along Route 198 south of the racetrack that will be turned into an elongated parking lot, officials said.

Mr. Cooke is also buying land between nearby train tracks and Brock Bridge Road. The new site would put the stadium complex on top of Brock Bridge Road, south of the intersection with Whiskey Bottom Road.

The Redskins are proposing to loop Brock Bridge Road around the stadium, in the way a beltway goes around a city.

Mr. Cooke said he plans to refurbish the existing parking lots.

"The synergy between the race course, under the able hands of my friend, Joe De Francis, and the new Redskins stadium will create enormous economic activity and jobs for the greater Laurel area," Mr. Cooke said in the statement.

Mr. De Francis said, "Laurel Race Course will be a fitting companion to the new Redskins stadium. The deal we struck is good for all concerned."

Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association, a member of a Redskins community outreach committee and a stadium opponent, urged caution when informed of the announcement.

"Purchasing the land doesn't mean they are going to build the stadium," he said.

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