Friendship Park miniature golf opens Saturday

May 04, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County officials say the new miniature golf course scheduled to open Saturday in Friendship Park will help clean up the park, but owners of a nearby golf practice center say it will take away some of their business.

They also say the deal between the county and the course's developers puts them at a disadvantage.

The course is part of a joint-venture that includes a driving range, batting cages and other games that opened last year. It will be the latest attraction at the Glen Burnie Golf Center at Friendship Park.

The county's goal is to turn the park along Dorsey Road into a family oriented recreation spot. The park had been a haven for illicit drug dealing and sexual encounters.

"We accomplished one of the main goals, which was to move some of the activity that was going on over at Friendship Park. We improved the appearance of that piece of property," said Jay Cuccia, assistant director of the county's Department of Recreation and Parks.

The golf center, a $750,000 investment by Privatization Plus Inc. of Glen Burnie, is being built into the hillside next to the park's pond. The first five holes were designed to be accessible to disabled players, said Dianne Sears, the center's manager.

Privatizations Plus has conceptual approval for another miniature golf course, "if this one goes over," said Mr. Cuccia

The official opening will be the weekend of June 10. The course will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from April to November, Ms. Sears said. Other golf activities at Friendship Park are open year-round.

The course is the latest park attraction to upset Ed Graefe's BWI Golf Center, which has operated on Aviation Boulevard for 18 years. Operators say the county was subsidizing a competing business by offering its park as a location.

BWI Golf manager Joe Donohue said the competition has cut into his driving range business. He expects the new golf course will pull customers from his 18-hole, par-36 miniature golf course as well. Even though the BWI charges less, it is older and doesn't have resort-atmosphere displays, such as the waterfall at the Friendship Park course.

Mr. Cuccia defended the county's decision to allow a golf center to locate near a private venture.

"You've got McDonald's and Burger King across the street from each other. In resort areas, you have 10 to 15 [miniature golf centers] in close proximity," he said.

The Maryland Aviation Administration, which owns the park, leased it to the county for 25 years. The lease expired last year, but was renewed for 20 years, Mr. Cuccia said. That lease runs concurrent with the county's agreement with Privatizations Plus.

The agreement calls for Privatizations Plus to pay the county 5 percent of its gross take or $50,000 a year, whichever is greater.

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