Ice rink proposal rejected

August 25, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

A Lutherville businessman will not be allowed to build an indoor ice rink on county-owned land at Sandymount Park, Carroll County commissioners have decided.

Many neighbors opposed the rink, which would seat 500 people, because they said it would disrupt the quiet park on Old Westminster Pike and increase traffic. The rink also would have been built on land planned for a soccer field.

Another factor in the decision was that the commissioners did not want to allow a private business to use county land, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said yesterday.

"It would be unprecedented. I almost get a little queasy when so much benefit would go to one individual or business," he said.

Tobias Kaye, owner of Towson Computer, asked the commissioners two weeks ago if he and a group of investors could build a rink at Sandymount. The park would be a good

location because it is easy to reach from Baltimore County, and he said he could not afford to buy privately owned commercial land.

Mr. Kaye said the rink would be used for hockey games, figure skating, public skating, lessons and parties. Admission would be about $5 per person.

Mr. Lippy and Commissioner Julia W. Gouge discussed the issue Tuesday during a closed meeting with Recreation and Parks Department Director Richard J. Soisson. Commissioner Donald I. Dell was out of town. The meeting was closed for "land acquisition," which is allowed under the state Open Meetings Law. Mr. Soisson said discussion about the rink fell under that category because the county could sell the land at the park. The county has no plans to do that, however, he said.

Mr. Lippy said he received about an equal number of calls from residents who were for and against the rink. Some complained that a hockey rink would bring "rowdy" people to the county; Mr. Lippy said he didn't agree with that argument.

He said an indoor rink is needed because hockey and skating are popular activities, but the rink should be built on private land.

Jody Ledford, interim president of the Sandymount Recreation Council, said opposition to the rink was growing among neighbors. She said she was in the process of planning a community meeting to allow Mr. Kaye to explain his plans.

Mr. Kaye had asked that he be allowed to pitch his plans to residents before they made up their minds about the rink.

The residents' main concern was that the rink would "change the flavor of the entire park," Mrs. Ledford said. Parents feel secure sending their children to the park alone, but said they wouldn't if an ice rink were there, she said. Some elderly residents worried that crime would increase, she said.

"Another major concern was the community losing public land to a private entrepreneur," Mrs. Ledford said.

Mr. Kaye had proposed leasing 3 1/2 to 4 acres for the rink and parking. He wanted to erect a 46,000-square-foot building that would cost $2.75 million.

He said yesterday that he was disappointed about the commissioners' decision, but said he would look at other sites in Carroll. He said he also is looking at sites in Baltimore and Harford counties.

Mr. Kaye said he received dozens of calls and letters from Carroll residents who want the rink to be built.

Mr. Soisson said he recommended that Mr. Kaye work with the county's Office of Economic Development to try to find a commercial site.

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