Proposed recreation center stirs interest but few answers

February 21, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

No one knows how it would be paid for, or where it would go, but that hasn't broken Lewis F. Holmes' resolve to bring a recreation center, complete with an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool, to northern Anne Arundel County.

"We're so desperate for adult recreation," said the Ferndale resident. "If all we become is urban sprawl without adult recreation, we're in a sorry shape."

Mr. Holmes, a native of Columbus, Ohio, has lived in Ferndale since 1967 with his wife, Sandy, and has reared three sons. He says recreation centers in Columbus gave him a place to go and kept him out of trouble when he was growing up.

For the past several months, Mr. Holmes has been trying to drum up public support for his vision. In search of land, he approached Baltimore-Washington International Airport with the idea in 1991.

The airport proposed two sites to Mr. Holmes last year. One on land at Dorsey and Camp Meade Roads near the Amtrak lines, and another, bounded roughly by White, Main, Benson avenues and Andover Road. But neighbors objected to the latter site at a public hearing in December held by Mr. Holmes.

Last year, the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association gave its support to Mr. Holmes' idea, while supporting a petition signed by 50 residents in the White and Main avenue areas against locating the center in their neighborhood.

The Linthicum-Ferndale Youth Athletic Association, which sometimes has to take youngsters to other communities to swim or to practice soccer or basketball, also supports Mr. Holmes' effort, said John Connolly, president of the athletic group.

And while the airport has made no promises, BWI spokeswoman Adrienne Walker-Pittman said the airport remains interested in working with Mr. Holmes to find land to build his dream.

"The decision is not totally ours," she explained. "Because we are an airport, a lot of [what] we do is regulated by the FAA and they would make the final decision as to how we use a tract of land."

Meanwhile, Mr. Holmes has turned his attention to eight acres of land on Third Avenue, near Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Ferndale that has been donated to the Ferndale-Linthicum Area Community Council. The council plans to build a new senior citizens center on the land.

But last Wednesday, Mr. Holmes pitched the idea of a combined senior citizen and recreation center to the council.

"There's no reason why the young and old can't share a rec center," Mrs. Holmes said in an interview at their home on Ferndale Road.

She and her husband conceded, however, that some logistical and traffic problems would have to be worked out.

Shirley Hertz, the council's treasurer said, the group would like to see concrete plans from Mr. Holmes before making a decision.

Ms. Hertz also said she told Mr. Holmes the county Department of Parks and Recreation should be involved in his effort.

Mr. Holmes acknowledged he probably will need county help. After all, someone has to pay for the center, likely to be an expensive proposition, and someone will have to run it, he and his wife agreed.

But for now Mr. Holmes, former president and founder of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association and a longtime volunteer coach in the community, said: "I think it's up to the community to get it started."

Mr. Holmes, a longtime civic activist, is also spearheading a community effort to find ways to make the school system more repsonsive.

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