County negotiating to acquire land to build park, multipurpose center

March 24, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

All roads may not lead to Glenwood, but a lot of west county residents will be driving there if plans for the Rose F. Allen estate are realized.

County officials are negotiating with Mrs. Allen's six children to purchase 181 acres -- most of the family farm -- for a park and county service center.

Meanwhile, the family is seeking commercial zoning for the remaining 5.5 acres at Carrs Mill Road and Route 97 for a gas station and possibly a medical facility or small shopping center.

After Mrs. Allen died in May 1992, developers approached the family about subdividing the property for homes, said Penny Gray, a daughter who represents the estate.

"It all seemed kind of attractive, but it didn't seem quite right," she said.

About a year ago, county officials approached them about building a park, and "We said, 'OK, this is the right thing; this is our way of giving back a little bit.' " Ms. Gray said.

The property was originally seen as an ideal site for a regional park, said county Public Works Director James M. Irvin, but a push to combine facilities to save money led to the expansion of those plans.

Now the property is seen as a possible multipurpose center for public facilities. The site could include a library, fire station and police annex in addition to recreational facilities.

The plans represent a trend toward putting several public facilities on one site. Savage, Elkridge and Scaggsville already have such centers.

"It's even better than keeping it farmland, because everybody can use it," Ms. Gray said. "We need a library, we need a fire station, we need a community center."

According to the county's long-range capital budget, the facilities are estimated to cost $9.5 million and be built within the next five to 10 years.

A planned $3 million Glenwood neighborhood center is likely to be one of the first things built on the site.

Earlier plans called for the center to be built on the 20-acre Glenwood Park property just across Carrs Mill Road from the Allen property and north of Bushy Park Elementary School.

That plan raised concern among some west county residents because it would sacrifice two soccer fields on the small park site.

The neighborhood center would include a gymnasium, conference rooms, a kitchen and locker rooms and would be the second such county-run facility in the county. The other center run by the county is the Roger Carter Neighborhood Center in Ellicott City.

If the County Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, decide to change the 5.5-acre parcel from rural conservation to general business zoning, the Allen family will first build a gas station at the corner.

"We really feel like we need a full-service gas station," Ms. Gray said. "There really is nothing like that along 97 in Howard County."

Although there are no gas stations on Route 97 now, the Zoning Board voted in February to rezone nearly 14 acres as rural business for a service station and small shopping center on the other side of Route 97 less than a mile north of the Allen property.

Another shopping center is planned for a parcel directly across Route 97.

After building the gasoline station, the Allen family is thinking about adding a health-care facility, an office for a health-maintenance organization or another small shopping center, Ms. Gray said.

"If they put in this multipurpose facility, we've got to take care of whatever needs arise from that," she said.

Ms. Gray said her family did not want to do anything that would mar the character of the neighborhood. "We want the community to tell us what they want or what they need and then go from there," she said. "You have to be responsible, you know. I still live there."

The county Planning Board will consider the zoning petition next Thursday at its 9:30 a.m. meeting in the Ellicott Room of the George Howard county office building.

Board members will hear testimony and offer a recommendation to the Zoning Board, which hold its own hearing before rendering a final decision on the zoning.

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